First Line Friday: Big cats

I just realized I haven't done one of these in awhile! I feel like a quick brain exercise is in order to get the creative juices flowing today. It's been a long, stressful week.

Take a look at this photo and tell me what these two lions are talking about. It can be dialogue, narrative, a caption... whatever comes to mind. Just let your imaginations go.

Here's mine:

Lion on the right:  One, two, three, EXHALE!

Lion on the left:  Wow, you're right. Dude. Your morning breath is definitely worse than mine. What did you eat last night?

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

Have a great weekend!  Can't wait for the Oscars.  I'm such a fan of James Franco!

Tag, I'm it!

I was tagged by Yat-Yee Chong to answer these 19 questions. Why 19, I wonder?

1). If you have pets, do you see them as animals, or are they members of the family?
I have four cats. FOUR. This is really their house, and we're just lucky to live in it.

2). If you can have a dream come true, what would it be?
This is gonna sound cheesy to the nth degree... but it already is coming true.

3). What is the one thing most hated by you?
Ignorance and intolerance.

4). What would you do with a billion dollars?
Well, it wouldn't be much fun to be a billionaire if none of my family or friends were rich. So I'd spread it around. And give a lot to charity. And then I'd build my dream house by the beach somewhere. And I'd travel a lot. There are so many places I'd love to see.

5). What helps to pull you out of a bad mood?
The Princess Bride never fails to cheer me up!

6). Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
These are equally amazing experiences. I don't think I could choose (unless the person who loves me is a creepy psychopathic stalker – in which case, I choose the first one).

7). What is your bedtime routine?
Brush my teeth. Wash my face. Moisturize. Floss. Read until I'm sleepy.

8). If you are currently in a relationship, how did you meet your partner?
We met in high school. He had a girlfriend. It was all very dramatic and angsty at the time.

9). If you could watch a creative person in the act of the creative process, who would it be?
I'd love to watch Lady Gaga write songs. What can I say, I'm a huge fan.

10). What kinds of books do you read?
Mostly fiction – thrillers, mainstream/literary, and lots of old and new Stephen King, with the occasional YA thrown in.

11). How would you see yourself in ten years time?
Hmmm. This is tough. I don't really have a ten-year plan.  I hope to still be happy, and still write (and publish) books, and still maintain close relationships with my family and friends. If all those things are true in ten years, I'd consider myself successful.

12). What's your fear?
Too many to list, but some of my weird little phobias can be found here.  My greatest fear would probably be dying and realizing I didn't live life to the fullest, and that I wasted time obsessing over the wrong things.

13). Would you give up all the junk food for the rest of your life for the opportunity to visit space?
So long as chocolate isn't considered a junk food, then hell yeah! (I hardly eat junk food, anyway.)

14). Would you rather be single and rich, or married and poor?
Phrased like this, neither one sounds enticing. What if I'm married, poor, and miserable? What if I'm single, rich, and miserable? But considering I am married, and we spent our earliest years barely getting by, I suppose I'd pick the latter.

15). What's the first thing you do when you wake up?
Check my BlackBerry. Pathetic, I know.

16). If you could change one thing about your spouse/partner, what would it be?
I plead the fifth on this! (He reads my blog.)

17). If you could pick a new name for yourself, what would it be?
My mom almost named me Samantha, and I think I could pass for a Sam. What do you guys think?

18). Would you forgive and forget no matter how horrible a thing that special someone has done?
Define horrible. But overall, I'm very forgiving. I don't quit people. Like, ever. (Which, I'm learning, isn't always a good thing.)

19). If you could only eat one thing for the next six months, what would it be?
You would think I'd say chocolate, but I would actually say bananas! That's the other food I eat almost every day. I love bananas. But wow, I'd be so malnourished!

And now, I'm required to tag four other bloggers:
C.N. Nevets at Nevets.QST
Jen Daiker at unedited
Monica B.W. at Love YA
Alexia Chamberlynn at The Life and Literary Pursuits of Alexia Chamberlynn

And here's the question I'd love everybody to take a shot at:

What would YOU do with a billion dollars?

My galleys arrived!

Today, at approximately 5:15 pm, the wonderful and amazing UPS man brought me a stack o' books. It's always exciting when the UPS man brings me a stack o' books, but today was especially exciting because these books were MINE!

I'm still waiting to hear whether the cover art is official (and these galleys do have cover art), so I can't show you the cover just yet. Plus I can tell they've already made changes to it since the galleys were sent to production, so who knows what will happen?

But it's all very exciting. Unbelievably so. I'm not a gooey girl, but I might, uh, have teared up, uh, just a little.

Strange phobias

It might appear as if I'm not really afraid of serial killers, since I did name my blog "The Serial Killer Files", after all. Mind you, I'm sure I'd be terrified if I was about to be murdered by an actual serial killer, but since they sort of exist (for me) in that fictional place in my head where stories are born, it's hard to be scared of them in any way that matters on a day-to-day basis.

However, I have plenty of other fears. Here's a list of my Top 10 phobias. They're strange.  Don't laugh.

10. Balloons
Yes, I know. What kind of freak is afraid of balloons? Me! I don't like the way they expand to a size larger than your head after starting out as something so small. I don't like that rubbery sound they make when you rub them together. And I definitely don't like it when they pop.

9. Thunder and lightning
I love the rain, and I love storms. But since I've been pretty lucky in my life so far, I think it's reasonable to expect that I might just get struck by lightning one of these days. And the sound of thunder makes me want to tuck my tail between my legs and crawl under the bed.

8. Heights
Toronto's CN Tower (pictured here) is 1,815 feet tall. I've visited the CN Tower a few times in my life (always when I was playing tour guide), but I've never stood near the window, and I never will. Just too damn scary. It's a long way down.

7. See-through staircases
I'm sure this is related to my phobia of heights, but I cannot climb up or down a staircase if I can see through it! I get vertigo. I feel like I'm going to pass out. Ridiculous, I know.

6. Rollercoasters
This is The Behemoth from Canada's Wonderland. I've stood at the bottom of this nightmare and watched as my nephews went on it. All I could imagine is their tiny little pre-pubescent bodies flying through the air. I understand that people love the adrenaline rush of a rollercoaster – I'll just never be one of them.

5. Garden slugs
I don't even think I realized these freakish creatures existed until I moved to the Northwest. In Toronto, when it rains, we get earthworms. Here, we get slugs. And slugs are way more disgusting than earthworms! They're black and moist and have little antennas and... ew. I'm getting creeped out just writing this.

4. Lit matches
I've never in my life lit a match. I've tried. I just can't. It scares me. Someday I hope to harness the power of fire,  but until then, I'll let someone else do it.

3. Millipedes
What's worse than garden slugs? Millipedes! They're practically slugs, but with a thousand freaky little legs. Ew. Again, creeping myself out just by writing this.

2. Porcelain dolls 
I can't even watch those Shopping Channel shows where they sell porcelain dolls. I'm convinced a demon lives inside each one. I do not understand the appeal. They look like dead little girls to me.

1. Clowns
Perhaps it's because I've read Stephen King's IT one too many times, but those bulbous noses and white faces and smeary lipstick and tufty hair all scare the shit out of me.

What are your phobias?  And please say you have some... don't leave me alone in my freakishness!

I'm anti-Valentine's Day

Please don't be mad at me.  I'm just not a fan.  This should not surprise you.  I'm not a gooey girl.  I'm not overly sentimental.  I don't cry easily and I don't automatically think that all puppies and kittens are cute (though if it's you showing off your new puppy or kitten, of course I'll tell you how adorable it is, even if it pees on my new shoes).   

But I do believe in love, and the power of love, and the wonderfulness that is romance (dude, I'm not dead inside).  Which is why I strongly dislike Valentine's Day – it's cheesy and clich├ęd, an overly commercialized "event" designed to make single people feel like crap, and people in relationships feel pressured.

Every year, as February 14 approaches, I watch as my married and attached friends go a little bit nuts, trying to think up some way to show their significant others how much they love them.  I watch as my single friends cringe and shrink, waiting for the day to pass as quickly as possible.

My thoughts?

  • We should eat chocolate every day.  Heart-shaped or otherwise. 
  • Cards that say something sweet are welcome anytime. 
  • Teddy bears and other fuzzy stuffed animals are cute all year round.
  • Homemade meals are always a hit, so please don't save your culinary magic for V-Day.
  • I don't need an excuse to buy new lingerie.  (That's all I'm gonna say about this one.)
  • Anybody can be your Valentine, not just your significant other.  Are you fortunate like me to have really good friends you adore?  Don't forget to tell them, and tell them often.
  • Romance takes skill.  Ergo, practice it all year round if you want to be good at it.

What about you?  Yay or nay to Valentine's Day?

The great Jeffery Deaver is blurbing my book!

Just when I think this whole publishing experience can't possibly get any better... It Gets Better.

Jeffery Deaver is one of my favorite authors, ever.  I've read every single one of his books and I'm a huge, huge fan of his Lincoln Rhyme series.  And I can't wait for CARTE BLANCHE to be released this summer, which is the newest "007" novel (yes, Ian Fleming Productions chose him to write the next James Bond book!).

So when my editor asked me a few months back to compile a wish list of authors I'd love to see blurb my book, of course he was at the top of the list.  That was a no brainer. 

But obviously as a new author, you don't expect to get everything you wish for.  You certainly don't expect someone like Jeffery Deaver to find the time to read your book.  And you most definitely don't expect him to like it.  You hope, is all.  You hope hope hope.

But, wonder of wonders, he read CREEP.  And he liked it!  And he offered a quote!  And without further ado, here it is:

Jennifer Hillier's Creep is top-of-the-line thriller writing. You better call in sick, because you're not going anywhere until you finish reading. Oh, and you might want to lock the door too. Just to be safe.
                                                      --Jeffery Deaver, author of Carte Blanche

I just died and went to heaven.  Is this really happening?

CARTE BLANCHE is coming June 2011.  Pre-order it from your local bookstore today!

A sign you're getting old...

Okay, let's face it, there are a lot of signs that tell you you're getting old.  But the big one for me these days is that I just can't eat what I want anymore without serious consequences.

After a very clean couple of months of eating, I totally ate a ton o' crap this past week.  It wasn't intentional.  I had my cousin visiting for a few days (who's my age and pretty much the male version of myself), and what did we do while we were talking up a storm, catching up, and philosophizing about life?  We ate whatever was around.  And I didn't hit the gym at all.  Then he left, and Superbowl Sunday arrived.  And what did I do?  I ate some more.  And I now I feel like I'm in the middle of a giant ball of brain fog trying to find my way out.  I feel totally lethargic, and I'm thinking a mini-detox is in order this week to make up for the past few days of gluttony (which used to be my most favorite deadly sin... yeah, not anymore).

Gone are the days when I could eat whatever I wanted and not see it on my ass.  Gone are the days when I could be in class all day, work two part-time jobs, hit the clubs at midnight, drink, head to a greasy diner for breakfast at 4 a.m., sleep for three hours, and get up the next day only to do it all over again.  If I tried that now I'd be hospitalized.

When did I get old?

I'm really feeling my age this year.  Okay, so I'm in my thirties, which I know isn't old relatively speaking, but I sure as HELL don't feel nineteen anymore.

Do you ever feel your age?

I've lost all perspective

Editing typeset pages is the least fun thing I've done since I started writing CREEP back in 2008.  Really, I'm not joking.  I would rank it only slightly better than querying.  At least with querying there was some excitement the odd time a request would come in.  But first pass editing?  Not Fun At All.

I finally finished my edits on Sunday afternoon and got the manuscript sent out just in time to make my deadline (yay!), but guys, I'm not gonna lie.  I'm FRIED.  Reading the manuscript for probably the twentieth time (at least) was incredibly difficult, because:

  • I've practically memorized it by now, however...
  • I can't afford to get lazy and skim, so I have to force myself to slow down.  But unfortunately, slowing down makes it...
  • Too easy to second guess every word choice, and I'm scared to change things because...

I can't see the forest or the trees.  I can't tell if there's tension, or if the story arcs in the right place, or if the characters are interesting, or if the dialogue is snappy enough.  But I do know that I liked and believed in the story at one point in time, so I have to have faith that it's still the same story and that it's just me who can't see straight right now.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to work on the new book.  At least my eyes will be fresh for that.

In other news, I'm being interviewed at Alexia Chamberlynn's blog tomorrow!  Stop by and visit!

What have you been up to?