Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kari's Kove: I love it! I hate it! Tis the Season...

the holidays! Love them...hate them....

Like Anita, I too bravely went out on Black Friday. Only, I went mid-day thinking it would have died down some.


It was still insane. In fact, why are the holidays so insane?

I would love for once to sit back, relax, and enjoy the holidays, but that never happens. Don't get me wrong, I love the holiday. Especially Christmas. But they are so much work! I do all the decorating, all the shopping, all the wrapping.... My hubby works and travels a lot, so it's pretty much left up to me. With four kids, all the free time he has is spent at one event or another, which is fine by me. That's where he should be.

But man....I want everything.

He always says you don't have to do so much. But I can't help it, I want all that. I just don't always want to be the one to do it. The boys cart all the boxes up, but that's about it. And my little Diva loves to help me, but she's so young it's not really a help. And I admit it, I am a perfectionist. So everything she does, I secretly go behind her anyway and fix it the way I want it :-)

I know, I am my own worst enemy.

I not only decorate, but my list for sending out Christmas cards is growing! And of course I have to do the picture card. That in and of itself is a nightmare. And the cookies....I HAVE to make cookies and decorate them with the kids. I won't even begin to describe the time and energy that takes along with the mess!!!!

All of this with a looming deadline! Tomorrow is December 1st and my book three, Trouble in the Tarot, is due on March 1st. I haven't even started it yet! Why do I keep doing this to myself? Probably because I thrive on chaos and seem to work best under pressure. Someday when the kids are gone I probably won't be able to write a word!


And just think, in a few short weeks, I'll have to take everything down and pack it away for the next year.

Last year we went to Florida to see my parents the day after Christmas. Now, that was insane. Had a blast, but trying to pack for a family of 6 on top of Christmas prep was not very merry! Never again...oh who am I kidding? If I could swing it this year, I probably would have gone again. Guess I'll have to wait until February.

Okay, back to decorating, shopping, wrapping and writing! Bring it on, people. Bring it on!

So what makes you thrive? Do you do better under pressure? What are your holidays like in your household?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anita's Attic: I Survived Black Friday...Twice!

Thanksgiving is over, and I had a wonderful, relaxing time. We went to my mom and dad's for dinner. She's the cook in the family so I only had to make one thing, BUT I was on clean up duty. Works for me. I'd rather eat her cooking any day. We don't do anything fancy, not elaborate table settings, just lots of conversation, laughter, and good food.

Ah, the food, I miss it already. We had Turkey, stuffing, cranberry salad, sweet potato casserole, green beans, broccoli and cheese casserole, mashed potatoes, cole slaw, macaroni salad, rolls, and the desserts....I live for desserts. Pecan pie, coconut pie, banana pudding, cheesecake, watergate salad, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something. I ate until I thought I'd croak, but it was a great time, happy and relaxing...UNTIL my sister in law suggested that we brave Black Friday. We did it a couple of years ago, and I haven't done it since. My God, have you ever been in a Walmart in the early hours of Black Friday? It's insane.

We decided to go for it because we wanted to surprise my parents with a new TV for Christmas, and Walmart had a doorbuster 32 inch TV for $188. I had only slept for about three hours the night before, but who could turn down a TV at that price? So with my stomach stuffed, I ran home to nap for two hours and get ready for the event. We were leaving at 11:00 since the TV offer started at midnight. At 11:00 my sister in law called and I could tell she was tired. We discussed the options and decided to wait until 6:00 so we could get some sleep first, and hope the TV's didn't sell out.

But I got worried, and since my daughter had been complaining because she'd never shopped Black Friday, off she and I went to Walmart. It was a madhouse. Every cart in the story had one or two TV's, and the lines from the checkout went halfway to the back of the store. We grabbed a cart and went to get our TV. The men unloading the pallets tried to get me to take three. I guess they wanted to get rid of them so they could go home. It was such a good deal that I decided to get my son one as well. I wasn't about to stand in that checkout line so we pushed our two TV's to the check out in the electronics department. Guess what? Yep, another line. I asked if this was the right line and the lady in front of me said it was. We stood there for almost an hour, wrapped around two aisles, barely moving, then I noticed the electronics checkout only had one cart. I hurried up there, leaving my daughter holding our place. Turns out the line we were in was for Kindles. I grabbed my cart and darted off like a Nascar driver with half the line trailing me. The entire last half of the Kindle line thought it was the line for the checkout.

I paid for got my TV's and started to leave when I saw three more TV's stacked in the front. What the heck? I threw another one in for my daughter. Her TV weighs like two hundred pounds, and I drive her crazy reminding her not to pull on the shelf or it might fall over and crush her. And there was no line at the checkouts now.

After a stop by Target, we went home, my daughter blissfully happy to have finally experienced Black Friday, and me crawling into bed at 3:00 am so I could wake at 6:00 and do it all over again. Thank goodness my sister in law drove. I was so groggy I felt drunk. I told her to keep an eye out in case I staggered into traffic. We made a day of it, hitting the mall and a dozen other stores. I got my second wind, but by the time we were finished, my entire body ached. I was limping, she had blisters on her toes, and we both felt 100 years old.

We finally dragged ourselves home, and as she dropped me off at my house, I realized I hadn't bought myself one thing. In fact, I hadn't bought much of anything except the TV's and a couple of gifts for my daughter. I was too tired to care that I'd worn myself out for nothing. My husband met me with the most beautiful words a woman could hear. "I'm cooking dinner." I crawled onto my chair and a half and slept until he woke me and made me eat dinner. I slept on and off for the next fourteen hours. I think I've finally recovered.

Next year, I think I'll let the rest of the world fight the crowds and I'll just shop from home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Liz's Lair: Please Welcome Mystery Author Rochelle Staab

Please help me give a wonderful M & M welcome to my friend and fellow Book Cents Babe, Rochelle Staab. I met Rochelle at a conference a few years ago, and we quickly became fast friends. She's like the author you want to hate but can't. I like to tease her by saying she took one stinking class, wrote one book, finaled in the GH, got an agent and sold before you could say "helluva" author. There was a little more blood, sweat, and tears involved, but not much. Her talent quickly shot her right to the top. She's here today talking about her whirlwind month. ( I tried to warn her!)

Writing Through the Holidaze

Hi everyone! I’m so happy to be here with my friends at M&M, enjoying the post-Thanksgiving leftover afterglow, ready for the next four weeks of ho-ho-holy-cow-it’s-the-holidays.

The seasonal jollies blew into town this year like a hurricane, splattering every street, mall, lawn, and TV commercial with red, green, white, or blue (four colors I won’t be wearing between December 26 and February 1). Radio stations are chirping out nostalgic holiday songs to sing along with (until December 25 when The Little Drummer Boy will pound on my nerves). The world is filled with cheery promises of magic and good will.

I’m in! I’m decking the halls! Running up my gas bill with an oven churning out cookies and brownies! Wearing glitter to the market! It’s good! It’s happy! Pass the eggnog!

What? How’s the writing going? Um, make that spiked eggnog, please, and pass me a box of Kleenex. I, uh, need a plan. I have a red stocking filled with excuses for why I haven’t written a damn, novel-related word since October 28. Who Do, Voodoo? came out November 1 and I’ve been busy promoting. The launch was a success, but my internal editor is nagging in my ear, “Where’s the book that’s due next, sister?”

Since I’ve been making lists (gifts, groceries, decorations) for the past two weeks, I might as well make another one on how to get my draft completed. Here goes:

1. Drop a note to Santa. Easy. I can do that now: Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is 50,000 new words by New Year’s Day. 2012. In order. I’ll help.
2. Set the timer for two hours of writing every morning before I check email or the news. Start tomorrow.

3. Get in a summery mood. My story is set in August. Baseball and bikinis anyone?
4. Write. Hah! Sounds easy, right? Inspiration, don’t fail me now.
5. Schedule small rewards that don’t involve going to the mall. Maybe a hot bubble bath for every ten pages written? A foot massage at the Chinese Massage Parlor on the corner when I reach the halfway mark?
6. Quit worrying. Think positive. Follow the plan.

I could edit the whole list down to “quit worrying and write” but I keep thinking there’s a trick to output volume I don’t know yet. You know, the Sooper Seekrit Shortcutz For Writing Under Pressure? And for the pre-published in the crowd—no slacking off for you, either. Writers write. Period. Get on the bandwagon, or in this case, the sleigh.

If you have a juicy tip for writing survival over the holidays, please leave a comment below. One lucky commenter will be chosen to win a copy of Who Do, Voodoo? (an excellent stocking stuffer, by the way!) US residents only.

A big hug and thank you to Liz Lipperman for inviting me to vent share here today. I wish you all a joyful and productive season. May all of your holiday dreams come true.
And remember—books make marvelous gifts!

Book Cents author Rochelle Staab, a former award-winning radio programmer and music industry marketing executive, blended her fascination with the supernatural and her love for mystery in Who Do, Voodoo? the first novel in her Mind for Murder Mystery series on Berkley Prime Crime. Bruja Brouhaha the second novel in the series will be released in August 2012. With the help of Santa and a good kitchen timer, she’s writing the third in the series now.

Find her at:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday

No, I was not one of the crazies standing in the line to get a deal. Nope. Been there, done that a couple years ago. After several hours that raised my blood pressure to new and unnatural levels - I did not like the nasty, hateful person I'd become. I'm always happy, patient, lighthearted, easy going.....but that Black Friday brought out a dark side of Barbie Jo that even "I" became afraid of. What you see on TV that happens all over the country is absolutely TRUE!!! I couldn't believe it. Now, you can't tell me these people are sleep deprived and in need of coffee. Hell, They stood in line WITH their coffee. And excuse me, but no one twisted your arm to be there. YOU made the choice. so suck it up and deal with the fact that it's 21 degrees, there are no chairs and there's still 2 hours before the store opens. I have no sympathy for those people. I attacked my Black Friday experience knowing I was not going to be the first in line, but happy to get the deal. Well, little did I know that there is "false advertising" and "misrepresentation" of product (a.k.a. it's not in the part of the store you think it's going to be in) and THAT is what set me off. Don't advertise something then only have 5 in the entire store - when you KNOW you're going to have 50 people lined up outside and coming in throughout the day. Or, like what happened to me when I was about the 10th person in line, went to the department and was told "our truck didn't arrive". WHAAAATTT????? And of course they didn't know when it would get there, and they wouldn't hold the item. Really????? I was outraged. And do they really think that by moving the item out of it's "logical" location, it adds to the thrill of the hunt? Not when you've been standing in line with grumpy-ass people for 2 hours in the freezing cold. It just makes me annoyed. It was not a good experience to say the least. Oh, I got my item....after screaming curses a sailor would be proud of as I left the store and went to another (where they DID have the item - for the same price, no less - and where sales people were actually friendly and helpful). By the time I got home, I was emotionally exhausted. Being an angry bitch takes a lot of energy. And I vowed I would NEVER do it again. I must say, I was tempted to go at midnight this year (as it seems many stores in our area were taking on a different approach and opening up at midnight versus 5:00 AM). Tempted...but not stupid. Because the reality of the situation was that there were crazy people who engulfed their Thanksgiving meal, then vacated while the rest of the fam watched football all afternoon, stuffed with turkey and not missing their presence, to go stand in line in preparation for the midnight specials. And what were these crazy people going to be like around 11:00??? Nope, not putting myself through it. Losing my good nature isn't worth the $50 I'd save on that item. And really, when you think about it.....are the deals REALLY that great? I know many people who LOVE Black Friday. THey go in groups, and come home with many items on their lists. But they also have to scuffle for them (sometimes). For all of you Black Friday warriors.....I applaud you. And my blood pressure thanks you. :-) Happy shopping everyone!! And enjoy the holiday weekend!!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Guest Blogger Larry Brooks

Today we have a treat. Larry Brooks has generously agreed to allow us to post his blog from this last week. Larry offers wonderful and inspiring advice for writers on  I read it with zeal, for he is down to earth and uplifting all at the same time. Given that today is Thanksgiving, please let us know what are the important components of your life. We are here and want to hear. Cassy

What have you written lately?
Volume is important.  Pace counts.
I’m not talking about volume and pacing within your stories.  I’m talking about your output.  The frequency with which you write The End on the final page of a manuscript.
I spend a lot of time talking about craft.  But craft is like love… not worth all that much if you don’t put it to work in your life.  In fact, it can be downright depressing when it exists as a means with no place to play.
Storytelling craft is a lot like love, in fact, but that’s another blog post.
If you expect to sell your first novel — as in, the first novel you’ve ever written – then you’ve just annointed yourself special.  It hardly ever happens.
No, a career as a fiction writer is a long-haul proposition.  Getting published isn’t the benchmark… staying at it is.  “On to the next” is the mantra of the successful in this business.
Is your muse driving the bus, or waiting on a bench?
I had dinner tonight with my beautiful step-daughter.  She was an English Lit major, she’s a passionate consumer of novels, and someone in close touch with energies and enlightenments that would send many of us into hiding, or to a shrink’s office. 
She has “the gift.”
I’ve talked to her for the last fifteen years about writing a novel.  Her life situation has led her to a point where, one could argue, the time has arrived. 
Tonight I asked her a question with interesting implications for all of us.
I asked her what she was waiting for.  If she was expecting, and therefore waiting on, a muse to suddenly agree that it’s time, and thus bestow a story idea upon her.  If she’s waiting for a cosmic shoulder tap that whispers the arrival of a Big Idea.
Before she could answer, I suggested that this may indeed be the case.  And then I also suggested that she flip this whole proposition on its naive ear to see what might happen.
What if, I postulated, the muse was waiting on her?  Waiting for her to click into story-search mode, eager to climb on board if only she’d declare the intention and set out a net.
She said that was an interesting idea.  That she’d think about it.
I’m hoping you’ll do the same.
What have you written lately?  If the answer is “not much,” then what are you waiting for?
The craft is already here.  Yours for the taking.
So is the Muse, and so is the Big Idea. 
The latter, however, is still out there.  Possibly hiding in plain site.  Possibly closer than you can imagine.
What if?  Marry those two words with something that fascinates you, frightens you, challenges you, call to you…
… and they can summon the Muse out of hiding. 
She won’t say them for you… but she’s listening closely. 
Tick tock.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kari's Kave: What I'm Thankful For

It's that time of year, folks. Time to really think about what you're thankful for.
The obvious ones are my family. I am so thankful to have a fabulous husband of twenty-two years who stands by my side in everything I do. He still laughs at my jokes and he knows how to have fun. I am so thankful to have four wonderful children who work hard in school and at sports and stay out of trouble...except at home sometimes :-) I am so thankful to have parents and in-laws and siblings and nieces and nephews and grandparents still around, who all get along and actually want to be together.
I am so thankful everyone is healthy!!!!
There are so many people out there less fortunate than I am. They've gone through loss and illness and poverty. When my husband lost his job not long ago, it was a very scary time for us. All we kept saying at the time was it could have been worse. The bad news could have been an illness or death. As long as we had each other, we would be okay. Thankfully, he got an even better job than before! I am truly thankful for that.
I am thankful for my friends. My kids' friends' parents, my Book Cents friends, my Mysteries and Margaritas friends, my CNYRW friends, my blogger friends, my conference friends.
I am so thankful for my very best friend, Barb Witek. I could not do any of this without her, and it wouldn't be half the fun. We started together, and we will end together, because she knows I won't every let her quit :-)
I am so very thankful for my awesome agent, Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary. She is so much more than an agent, and I don't know anyone who works harder for their clients than she does. She always puts her people first, no matter what. I am truly blessed to have her in my life.
I am thankful for my editor, Faith Black of Berkley Prime Crime. She is amazing, and she believes in me. That is huge in today's market. I really got lucky by having her in my corner. I hope we work together for a very very long time.
I am so thankful there's finally a way to put out my work that never sold, but that I still really believe in. That is going to be so exciting to finally see those works as books. And I will forever be grateful to see my Fortune Teller Series in the traditional market as well. To have book one become a national bestseller was an amazing feeling. I can only hope book two does as well:-)
Speaking of book two, Corpse in the Crystal Ball is now available for pre-order
I am thrilled and thankful to be in both worlds. And I'm thankful for the exciting times ahead of us. To be able to do what you love is truly a blessing.
So tell me.....what are YOU thankful for?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anita's Attic: Girls Night Out With the Uber Talented Nora Roberts!

This past Thursday my CP, Dana, and I went to our second Girls Night Out at Turn the Page, the bookstore owned by Nora Roberts' husband. A very nice man, by the way. Before the event, Dana and I met some of her blogging buddies, the Waterworld Mermaids at the Vesta, a pizzeria just up the street from Turn the Page. We had lots of laughs, writer chitchat and general silliness. I was thrilled that they let me be an honorary mermaid for the night. Here are our fish faces.

Although it wasn't an official booksigning, there were several authors at TTP with books available. I'm mad at myself because I spent most of the night behind the table and didn't chat once with Nora. Well, I'll stalk her at the next signing on December 3rd :)
Seriously, she mingles with us ordinary folk as if she weren't the Goddess of Romance, as you can see from this picture.

This is Kerri Carpenter, Nora Roberts, Dana Rodgers (my CP) and Avery Flynn. Kerri adores Nora so much that she and her mother once reorganized an entire Nora section in a bookstore. So this was a really special evening for her. It was fun for everyone, getting to mingle with Nora, who has an incredible sense of style, and chat with the bookstore staff, simply fabulous ladies. They gave away door prizes (Dana won a facial, so we're definitely going back) and there were hand massages. We writers do have to take care of our hands. They are our livelihood. I'm glad I went and I can't wait for the holiday signing next month.

Speaking of holidays, since this is Thanksgiving week, I want to remind us all, as Liz did in her blog yesterday, to stop and think about all the things we're thankful for. I have so many. Family, friends, good health, a home, food (too much), and as an author I have a lot to be thankful for. Awaken did very well, I hit some big lists, the readers seem to love the series, the second book came out November 1st and the publisher had to almost immediately go to reprint. I'm very thankful for that. Also that I sold the new paranormal relic hunter series to Amazon Montlake. Yay! Note to self: get butt in chair and write. I'm majorly thankful for the Hollywood interest the new series immediately generated. That's like a wow moment. I'll never ever forget that. Second note to self and reminder from agent: GET BUTT IN CHAIR AND WRITE!!!!!!

It's been a wonderful year. Happy Thanksgiving to my M&M sisters, our families and friends, our followers and first time visitors. Eat turkey, treasure your family and friends, remember what's important in life, and please come back and visit with us!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Liz's Lair: The Week to Give Thanks

As you all know, Thanksgiving is the one day of the year dedicated to giving thanks. I don't know about you, but I consider myself especially blessed. Life has been good to me lately.

First, there is my family. Both kids and their spouses are healthy and doing well and have jobs they like. With the exception of an occasional cold and/or ear infection, all four grandkids are doing well, also. Hubby is retired but still consulting in the job he loves…one that takes him out of the house two days a week, for which I am especially grateful.

And me – – well, life is just good. I worried that my editor would hate my first book (the one she bought on proposal.) Turns out she loved it. Then I worried I would get bad reviews. Turns out I did get a few, but most of them were really good. The good news is that the bad ones didn't bother me as much as I thought they would. I've come to the realization that not everyone will like me and my writing. I'm okay with that – – at least for today.

But what I'm really grateful for is that I'm doing exactly what I love to do…and getting paid for it. How many people can say that about their job?

So I decided today I would find out what you all are grateful for. One lucky commenter will receive a free download of MORTAL DECEPTION, my Amazon book that for sure will come out this week. I've already heard from a reviewer who had so many good things to say about it, I almost blushed. I love this book, but it still surprises me that someone else loves it almost as much as I do.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving week to everyone from all of us at Mysteries and Margaritas. Now, go comment for the free download and tell me what you will give thanks for on Thursday. If you don't win, check my website. I hope to have empty live by tomorrow.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I know in the past I've posted about procrastination (I'm quite good at it) and crunch time (I'm good at that, too). But when it comes to decisions, especially the hard ones.... I suck. Oh hell, maybe not even the hard ones. I drive my husband crazy when we go out to eat and it takes me forever to decide what I want, or what kind of pre-dinner drink I want. I don't know why it comes so hard for me. I love food and drink. Maybe it's because I don't want to choose the wrong item. What if I miss out on something better? What if the item I choose isn't really that good for me, even though it sounds delicious?? My husband is the King of decision making. Sometimes he's a little too quick to decide (this is where I come in and make him see the other sides of the issue) but for the most part, when all is said and done, he makes the right choice. I tell him all the time he's black and white. There are no shades of grey. After being married for 18 years, you'd think I would have adapted some of these traits. Maybe I have a little, but I am no BigDawg. So I find myself faced with some very difficult decisions. To the BigDawg, it's black and white - which gives me a choice I'm not ready to make. But I see the point, it's there in front of me and I think I've been choosing not to accept it all along...thinking that something better was right around the corner. I've turned many corners, and they have been empty. And in my shades of grey world, I've looked for the silver lining. But now I have to ask myself, has it been fear that has kept me from making a choice? What exactly am I afraid of...admitting failure? No one likes to do that, but isn't that when you find out what you're made of, pick yourself up and move on? Sometimes even when you want something bad enough, it's just not meant to be. You face the fact and move on. You make the hard decision, even if it sucks. So while I'm still floating in my shades of grey space, the black and white looms over me like a thunder cloud. Do I keep my rose colored glasses on a bit longer, or do I put on my big girl pants and choose.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Traditions

Next week is Thanksgiving. I’m starting the lists. As you know, don’t come between me and my lists. My husband, daughter, her husband and I are heading north to join my parents for the holiday. I start the food shopping on Monday with some early food prep to follow. The holidays are so filled with tradition that at times there is little room for maneuvering. I know my daughter and my father will refuse to change the family stuffing. One year we did and there was basically a revolt. My mother will be sure to make turkey stock from the carcass and we’ll smell that bird for days. All the fixings will be the ones we hold dear. There is comfort in knowing it will be the same. Somehow having the "must be this way" syndrome is a blanket of security.
But, Christmas this year is going to be a new experience for us. I’m actually a little nervous. After 30 years of marriage, two children, and the many family traditions we’ve created, my husband and I are going to be alone for the holiday. This has never happened before. Our older daughter is married and is starting her own routines. Our younger daughter is a physician and has to work. The children aren’t children any more.
So, do we keep the traditions because that’s what you’re supposed to do? Do we begin new ones? Do we still hang stockings with care? Do we read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to each other, pretending that we can hear my father reading to me and my husband reading it every year to our children? What would the holiday mean this year?
For the last few weeks my husband, an inveterate reader of anything related to travel, has begun to suggest where we spend Christmas. Maybe we should explore a new city, he keeps saying. We could go anywhere he repeats. Every few hours he has a new idea. I won’t list them, but they all involve suitcases, plane tickets, and hours in the air. He began a policy in his office many years ago of giving everyone the week off from Christmas to New Year’s. So, he has ideas galore of where we can be for the week. It’s been like playing at the roulette table. The ball spins and somehow that’s where we’ll be.
Until two days ago. Over dinner he said, “Maybe we should stay home. There are so many things we’ve not had a chance to enjoy.” He began his list of what he’d like to do, including perfecting his homemade pasta that is already pretty darn good.
I smiled. This was sounding good. I immediately had images of the fires in our fireplaces, the stack of books that keep calling to me, and walks with our dogs in the hopefully snowy woods.
“But,” he continued. “No, turkey, no stuffing, and no squash. I’m planning the meal and it will be something totally different.”
Fine, I thought. Then I became nostalgic. Now we open a new chapter and create new traditions. The familiar ones won't disappear. They will be part of the family whenever we want them, just not this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kari's Kave: Crime Bake Unleashed!

Okay, so I admit it. I go to conferences to have fun! Yes, I still go to network and even learn something new about the craft as well as the industry. But I also go to unwind. And going with my special peeps, Barbie Jo Mahoney and Danielle LaBue, is what makes it "special!"

We drove in on Thursday (you don't even want to know about the car ride! Talk about fun :-) and we used that day as a writer's retreat. Our room was awesome, and the window seat was more like a mini-room, so we named it the BC playpen!

Since this was our first mystery conference, we each took on an alias. I was Natasia, Barbie was Angelina, and Danielle was Svetlana. Trust me, people, we stayed in character the whole night :-)

When we were done playing in the playpen, we filled it with yummy food and drinks. Comfort clothes, comfort food, and great company. It doesn't get any better than that! Well, okay, it did get pretty fun when the rest of the BC gang showed up. It was great finally putting some faces to the names we've come to know so well. And meeting new people along the way made it even better.

Friday night, we stepped out in style. Natasia, Svetlana, and Angelina clean up nice, don't you think? Oh, all right, I guess the BC crew doesn't look half bad, either. And hey, even our very own Pete was up for an award. No worries, his harem helped him celebrate :-)

And then something happened to Natasia, Svetlana and Angelina....Scooby Doo and the gang took over their bodies and possessed them. For surely we were all possessed to act like that! Zoinks! Like I totally make the ugliest man alive! But we had so much fun, it was totally worth it. We won our category in the Sleuths, Spies and Private Eyes contest by hamming it up and probably scarring Barry Eisler and Nancy Pickard for life :-) Those poor judges!
All in all, it was a great conference and we had a blast! So much so I feel another road trip coming on. Which one will we crash next? It's a mystery. Guess you'll just have to wait and see. You never know who we might be disguised as, but if you see some wild and crazy women, chances are it's us...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Anita's Attic: Putting Some Sanity Back Into My Life

Sometimes writing feels like living inside a tornado, from just getting the story down--which isn't an easy thing, or fast, if you write slow like I do--to editing, keeping up with promotion, loops, blogging, and what about family? We can't forget them, those people we love, who support us while we embrace this insanity. And if you're not organized, as I'm not, it's even worse.

I find myself at a place where I have to figure out a new method to my madness. I could win an award for Worst Time Manager of the decade. I'm sure I'm dawdling away time that I can't afford to waste. Especially now. One thing I've been thinking about is how long it takes me to write a book. I'm not really sure how long that is since I only have two that are completely finished, and each one was a unique situation. But I read something yesterday that encouraged me.

Several days ago I was on Margie Lawson's Pubbed Grad Blog, so I've been checking in with some of her other grad blogs. Yesterday, she had Julie Rowe. Margie showed some examples of Julie's writing, which were great, but what really excited me was Julie's response to my question about her editing process. Like most of the industry suggests, Julie does her editing after the rough draft is finished, something I find difficult. I always edit as I go. It's not the final edit, but if I see something wrong with the manuscript or know I'm going to make a change, I can't leave it until later. Julie said she used to do this, and found that it took her about 18 months to get the first book down. Now she gets the rough draft down without edits, then makes several editing passes. Combined with using the BIAW (Book In A Week) method she can now write a book and have it ready for publication in three months.

Okay, I might not be that fast, but I'm encouraged. Maybe there's hope for me. I'm going to give it a try, and I'm going to investigate BIAW. Thanks to Margie Lawson's Pubbed Grad Blog and Julie, I hope to put some sanity back into one part of my life. Now, if anyone has suggestions about the other billion things, I'm open to those too.

And in the meantime, I recommend Margie's Pubbed Grad Blog I've found a lot of inspiration there over the past several days. Great writing examples that make light bulbs go off in my head. It's like a glimpse into a Margie class.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Liz’s Lair: Choices

Recognize him? It’s Barry Eisler, NY Times Best Seller who turned down a half a million dollar advance to self publish.

Well sorta.

I know a lot of you out there are shaking your heads right now. Most of us will never see that kind of advance –or even make half of that in our entire writing careers. So, what could possibly have been going through his mind when he turned his nose up at the offer?

My guess would be that it's because we have choices. In today’s publishing world it’s no longer New York or bust. There are hundreds of reputable e-pubs (and some not so reputable) willing to take a chance on a manuscript that NY rejected for whatever reason. Did I say willing to take a chance--more like chomping at the bit. Thy can’t make money unless they have books, and with so many upstarts out there, chances are pretty good that we could all get a contract.

But is that always the way to go? Or is even a NY offer always the way to go?

That brings me back to the key word for today. CHOICES.

And what about self publishing. Are Barry and Joe Konrath and some of the others pioneering the way for us? Putting your work on Amazon yourself no longer carries the “failure” stigma that it used to. Hundreds of authors are jumping on that bandwagon with books that NY either doesn’t want or has no idea how to market. MORTAL DECEPTION will go up in the next few weeks (I know. I know. My saying that is getting old.) But trust me this time. I’ve got added incentive since a widely published reviewer read it and gushed. She wants to get the buzz going for the Chrismas holidays. How can I say no to that?

And as for Barry—well, he talked a good game about self publishing but in the end, he signed on the dotted line with Amazon. I can’t say I blame him. Self publishing is a lot of work. The moral of this story is that sometimes you have to make difficult choices to get ahead in this world. Same old-same old isn’t always the safest way. Will Barry’s decision be the right one? Only time will tell, and a lot of us will be watching, but I am so excited because of all the choices authors have today that I had to tell his story.

The picture is from the New England Crime Bake where he was a keynote speaker. The conference wasn’t as crazy as last year, but it was fun. I met some really interesting people there and schmoozed with the best of them. Here’s our favorite male version of a BC babe, Pete, who got an honorable mention in the Al Blanchard award this weekend. Yay, Pete! His biggest prize was being surrounded by all these adoring fans!

And then I met a really ugly guy with 2 cute chicks. More about them tomorrow, I’m sure.

And just when you think you have finally made the right choice, someone tempts you with another. An editor at the conference expressed interested in MORTAL DECEPTION. The problem is that even if she loved it and bought it, it wouldn’t be released until 2013. I’ve never been a patient woman. So, look for it in the next few weeks when it will go on sale until after Christmas.

Did I make the right decision? Tell me what you think about all these choices.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Staking out Crime Bake

The road trip to Crime Bake was an adventure. We drove through rain and traffic and made it safely to the hotel - with lots of laughter along the way. It's Friday and I'm at Crime Bake in Dedham, MA staking out perps with my peeps Kari Lee Townsend and Danielle LaBue. There's quite the cast of characters here and we are having a ball!! we visited the Sisters in Crime welcome. Lots of fun!! and we will be at the pizza party later networking and meeting new mystery authors. We are waiting anxiously for our agent (Christine) and Liz Lipperman to join us - who had a little "delay" at the airport with their writer driver!!! Looking forward to a fantastic conference and learning interesting things through the mystery perspective. No WiFi in the room, so updates will not be happening...sorry blog fans! Not much to report except we are people watching - yet have no idea who we are watching!! LOL. We have found fashion faux-pas and disasters...not to mention secret hotties. Oh, and hairstyles that need a make-over. :-) We have code names: Natasha, Svetlana, and Angelina - and WE are on the case. Skippy behind the bar is shaking up some mean drinks for the fashion deprives in need of a stylist and it seems like EVERYONE is on their smart phone. We have recon photos and are not afraid to use them. The BC babes are in the house and totally plan to rock this conference (although we may be banned for next year! LOL) N.S.A. - out (for now)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

SOLD! My Paranormal Relic Hunter Series to Amazon Publishing

The past several days have been crazy, with Embrace’s release and my blog tour, a birthday party Friday night with 15 eleven-year olds going full force, a football party Saturday night, a family outing on Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park on Sunday, and now I have some wonderful news to add to my zany week. My agent just sold my paranormal relic hunter series to Amazon Publishing, a four book deal! No warriors this time, but lots of mystery, tension, and relics. Think Indiana Jones meets Stephanie Plum, with a National Treasure flavor thrown in for good measure. I’m really looking forward to this new series.

Embrace is doing very well. It’s on some of Amazon’s best seller lists and most importantly, I’m hearing from readers who love the book. Reviewers as well, and the wonderful thing is, almost all of them loved Awaken but think Embrace is even better. What more could an author ask for? That’s always a worry with a new series. What if the book was just a one hit wonder? So that’s a relief.

Here’s another excerpt to whet your whistle.

Cody gripped his sword and stepped lightly on the forest floor, ears tuned for any sound that didn’t belong. He sniffed, eyes searching the shadows. Something was there; he could feel it. A soft laugh whispered through the trees. He whirled. A man materialized a few yards away, watching him with red eyes. He smiled, and sharp teeth flashed in the dark. Fangs. A vampire! What the hell was it doing here? Before Cody could lift his sword, the man rushed at him like a streak, moving so fast Cody couldn’t track it.

He learned in the battle at Druan’s castle that the only sure way to kill a vampire was beheading or a direct stab through the heart. Talismans didn’t work on them. He swung his sword as the thing zoomed past, but he missed. Whirling, it came back. Just as it slammed Cody to the ground, it went solid again, with fangs an inch long, hitting Cody like a semitruck. He rolled to his feet, grabbed his fallen sword, and braced for the next attack. This time when it struck, he was ready. As he fell, he thrust his sword upward, into its heart. The creature turned to dust in mid-air, particles settling all around him.

Hisses filled the air as more creatures emerged from the trees. They stood out of sword’s reach, their fangs bared. Cody searched out where each one stood, identifying the leader, who stood a little apart from the others, his stance cockier, more sure. When one of the others came at Cody, he turned aside and drove his sword into the leader’s heart. The others hissed and looked at each other. They hadn’t expected him to take the offensive when he was so outnumbered, but he was used to fighting against the odds.

They came at him like bullets, nothing but a blur, until they slowed. He swung left and drove his sword into what he hoped was the thing’s heart, and dust rained down, covering his sword. Two of them hit him at once, flinging him in the air like a rag doll. His bones felt like they shattered, but he clung to his sword. They came at him again, and he rolled painfully to his feet, his blade catching another one in the neck. The swing wasn’t strong enough. The vampire screeched and kept going. If he could just see the bloody things. Cody ducked as another one attacked and then swung harder, finishing off the one he missed. He was tiring, but he had to kill them all before they discovered Shay.

Two were left, but they kept attacking so close together that he couldn’t strike them both. He waited for the first to attack. Using the side of a tree to spring clear, he flipped through the air, leveling his blade at what he thought was its neck. It disappeared, leaving only one.

“Come on, you bastard.”

The vampire stood fifty feet away in human form. He turned his head, looking at the path leading to the cabin, and Cody followed his gaze. Shay stood there, her face pale, eyes wide with shock.

“We’ve found you at last,” the vampire said.

Cody’s blood felt like shards of ice.

“We?” Shay asked, her voice strong. “You’re the only one left.”

The vampire grinned. “Too bad I can’t have a taste of you. The feisty ones are always better. I’ll have to settle for him.” Its fangs lengthened. “No one cares about him.”

Shay’s face darkened; her back straightened; her shoulders squared. “I care about him.”

The vampire turned and streaked toward Cody. Shay ran after the vampire, moving just as fast. She tackled it, and they both rolled into the trees, a mix of swirling colors. Cody stood rooted in place, his mouth hanging open. What the hell? Pushing away his shock, he ran after her. How was she doing that?

The vampire looked as stunned as Cody felt. It attacked again, catching Cody off guard, slamming him into a tree. Through the thick fog pushing at the edges of Cody’s brain, he registered several things at once. The vampire rushing at him, and Shay, farther away, scooping up a stick and running after the vampire. No, what she did was faster than running. She streaked after the vampire, driving the stick right into the middle of it. It went solid, its fangs elongated, red eyes wide with shock. The vampire disintegrated, but Shay kept coming, moving too fast to stop. She hit the ground and rolled, her stick driven deep into the earth, vibrating, four inches from Cody’s face.

Some of the M&M gals are leaving today for Crime Bake. I wish I was going with them, but maybe next year. I hope you all have a blast! In the meantime, I’m on my blog tour. Here’s a list of the places you can find me the rest of the month. There are giveaways at each.













Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Kari's Kave: Road Trip.....

I am so excited I can barely sit still!

Tomorrow morning I hit the road with my favorite CP's Barbie Jo Mahoney and Danielle LaBue.

Where are we headed you ask....

To the Crime Bake in Boston!

This will be our very first mystery conference ever. We've been to plenty of romance conference, but never mystery ones. I figured it's about time we met the people in our world. There will be plenty of workshops and guest speakers and even a fun banquet Saturday night.

You KNOW I'll be taking lots of pictures to share on Kari's Kave next Wednesday....

I still have so much to do today.

Get hair cut and colored.....check!
Clean house.....check!
Do everyone's laundry.....check!
Run to grocery store....check!
Make homemade sauce and meatballs....check!
Lose my mind.....already there :-)

Still.....Thelma and Louisies are hitting the road come matter what!

Anyone else going to Crime Bake?

What are you favorite mystery conferences and why?

I want to go to Malice Domestic this April. I've heard that is a great conference for people who write Cozy Mysteries. I will do that for sure if I don't win Best Amateur Sleuth of 2011. If I DO happen to win that amazing award, then I will go to the RT Convention in Chicago in April instead. I'm just still so thrilled and stunned to have even been nominated with all the awesome cozy mysteries that came out this year.

Okay, so much to do and NO time.....stay tuned for next week when I come back with all the mystery scoop and plenty of pics to share :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cassy's Corner- Managing Your Files

I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed and need your advice. My computer files are taking over my life and I want control back!
First, there are the files I keep for my emails. Along the left column are the mailboxes I’ve set up to store emails that maybe one day will be important to find again. I have mailboxes relating to crime information, private investigators, our local RWA chapter’s contest that I managed (two years ago and still the files are there), travel, restaurants, emails from special people I can’t bear to discard, groups related to writing, publishing houses that look of interest, and so many more I can’t begin to list. Mind you, these are just the mailboxes.
Then there is the full list of the emails that I have read but not filed or discarded. I refuse to admit to you how many there are for you’ll lose respect for me. Why do I still have them? Next comes the Trash. I never delete my Trash file for maybe just maybe I might have to go back and find something. It’s happened before.
Second, there are the files that are in my Documents folder. These are things I have written, such as my blog postings, that I want to keep. Yet, I haven’t quite figured out how to label them all so I have rapid access. For instance, how do you keep track of which version of your book you are working on? I have a naming system that seems to work pretty well. BUT, I back-up my files to the Mac Cloud, to a thumb drive and to an external hard disk. Yes, I am weird about it, but that’s another story.
So, with the back-ups a new problem arises. When I have “Time for a Change 5” as the version on my laptop and then back it up to the various sources I listed, if I make any additional changes to that file on my laptop without copying it to all the sources the same named file will be different depending on where I access it. Does this make sense?
Third, I use more than one computer. I have the Mac Airport in my house so the files can be accessed by any machine. Fine and good. Swell. Great idea. BUT, if I haven’t backed up the files to the Mac Cloud, I could open one machine and have an earlier version. Back to the previous point I just made.
Next, I could talk about passwords, but I fear of sounding too strident. I have a file of all my passwords for various groups, online banking, system administrator on each of the machines, and many more that always seem to be changing. Even Blogger and Facebook have forced me to create new ones. Then when you’re hacked, you start all over again. I keep this file on paper for I fear putting it on the computer.
Okay, I’ve sounded like Andy Rooney for too long. It’s 4:30 in the morning and I can’t find a particular file I need, hence the rant.
So, if you have solved this and are willing to share, I’m all ears. Waiting to hear from you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Liz's Lair: Welcome author Vicki Batman

Please help me welcome my friend and fellow author, Vicki Batman, to M & M this morning. Vicki's going to tell us about a really great project she was a part of and some lucky commenter will receive a free download of Lavender Dreams.

Boing!!! Writing Magic?

Since I write so many short stories, I'm frequently asked where the ideas come from. It's like magic!
Honestly, I do have the boing?!! moments, and the story just about writes itself.
One time, I looked at Handsome's ties and went boing!!! But that doesn't happen often.

Sometimes, I sit my butt in the chair, and say, "I'm going to write about blank." That's hard work.

I have had stories develop from journaling. I don't really journal in a memoir style. I open the doc labeled journal, type in the date, and let loose. Usually, a good rant and rave. (I'd advise Handsome not to read this.)

I have written stories based on an essay. In particular, I might have an incident I want to memorialize. I'll write the whole thing in a storytelling style, and occasionally, revisit the story to see what I've done.

This is how I came up with the idea for "Taking Flight," my short fiction piece based on fact, for the MuseIt Up Publishing's cancer anthology, Lavender Dreams. A year prior to a very dear friend's passing from cancer, we had experienced something momentous in our Jazzercise class, and I felt compelled to remember the event in the method as described above.

I'm not a plotter; mostly, a pantser. I have an idea (or a boing!!! moment), and take off from there. And I have an idea of how the story will end (after all, romance is a happily ever after). Then I layer and layer. I like Liz's term Plotter + Pantster = Plotster.

Denying the true aha! flashes would be denying pure creativity, in my opinion. For example, if I'm writing along, and a word appears in my head, that word is almost certain to be better than the one on the paper. I make the change. Or I might bedoing something, and I hear a piece of dialogue. I scribble on whatever is handy, and insert the lines in my work. Those are better too.

Does creativity come knocking on your head? What do you do when it does? Do you listen?

Here's a tiny excerpt from "Taking Flight," my short story feature in MuseIt Up Publishing's cancer anthology, Lavender Dreams.

Charley tilted her head. “Oh my God. Look at the butterflies.”
This definitely wasn’t ordinary. Forgetting about class, we raced to the door, only to be stunned by what we saw when we got there. There were hundreds, thousands, maybe even a bazillion, orange and black butterflies.
The monarchs were migrating.
In my lifetime, I’d only heard about their migration; I hadn’t seen it anywhere.
Simultaneously, Charley and I shared a “Wow.”
This was no ordinary thing.
Something compelled me to venture outside and truly experience what was happening there. To see where they traveled, what they’d do, to just watch.
I grabbed Charley's hand and whispered, "Let's go."

Vicki Batman is kicking back and letting the words flow on a new short story. Find her at: Or at: Lavender Dreams is available at: