Friday, December 11, 2009

Wandering in The Magic District

So, there I was, minding my own business when suddenly the wonderful, sassy, and somewhat scary Diana Rowland's name appeared in my inbox. Always happy to hear from a fellow Southerner, I opened the email to find an invite to join her at The Magic District group blog.


I composed myself and answered that I would be delighted to join. After much celebration, I have officially joined the ranks of The Magic District folk. We're still working out a complete posting schedule but once I have that in hand, I'll pass it along.

In the meanwhile, check out my fellow word-wizards at The Magic District.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Extreme Sport: Model Tipping

A new extreme sport has been created for all who love those barechested male cover models like those found at the Romantic Times convention. The sport is Model Tipping*, and here's how to play.

Model Tipping is similar to the traditional Southern game of "cow tipping" but is also similar to pro wrestling, cattle rustling, and catch-and-release fishing. Players capture the models in various snares, take photographic evidence of the capture, and then release the model into the wild. The important thing to remember is the catch-and-release part. We don't want to injure the cover models who make RT their natural habitat. Bruises are never sexy, ladies. If you're interested in playing, these are the rules that must be followed:

1. No weapons allowed, this includes clubs. We're not Neanderthals on the prowl for mates. This is a fun sport.

2. Sitting on or pinning models to the floor for longer than three (3) seconds will result in disqualification.

3. Hog-tying is permited but the model must be released after photographic proof of the capture has been taken.

4. Duct tape is not permited. However, leather straps are allowed. Creative use of bungee cords can result in bonus points being awarded.

5. All models carry a base point value of 20. Certain "advance models" carry a higher value, as shown below:
  • Fabio = 500 pts

  • Fabio in loincloth = +25 pts

  • Adrian Paul = 1000 pts

  • Adrian Paul with Highlander sword = +50 pts
  • Adrian Paul with Highlander sword, kilt, and bare chest = +500 pts
  • Any former Mr. Romance title holder = 100 pts

  • Any former Mr. Romance title holder with bare chest = +25 pts

  • Current Mr. Romance contestants = 50 pts

  • Current Mr. Romance contestants with bare chest = +15 pts
6. Photographic evidence of the capture must be taken to ensure proper point values are awarded.

7. Visible bruising of the models will result in disqualification.

8. Failure to release captured models after photographic evidence is taken will result in disqualification.

9. Capturing the same model repeatedly will not advance your score. One capture per player, per model.

10. All rules and point values are subject to change.

11. Game play prohibited were restricted by law. Other restrictions may apply.

12. No purchase necessary.

Remember, ladies, Model Tipping is a catch-and-release sport. Models tend to be sly and can be tricky to capture. Use your wits. Keep the field of play clean and safe. Have fun.

My thanks to Jennie Bentley and Kelli Stanley for their input and contributions to the rules. Now, go forth and happy Model Tipping!

*Model Tipping is extreme fantasy sport and complete, utter fiction and should not be attempted by those with heart conditions, bad backs, weak ankles, or extreme shyness. Players and models assume responsibilty for all risks involved and agree to hold the creators blameless for all injuries, heart breaks, and jealous spouses, significant others, and/or partners.

Mama Drama and Emotional Dodgeball

It's been a long, rough week and I'm exhausted -- physically, mentally, and emotionally. Here's why:

On Friday, November 27, my mother fell (who is seventy-seven, by the way) and broke three ribs. Thankfully she did not injure her hip, screw up the artificial knee replacement or shoulder surgery she had a few years ago, nor did she hit her head. The broken ribs did not puncture or injure any vital organs. She simply has large bruises on her side and hip and, of course, the ribs.

I, along with Mark, drove to Mississippi that same night, and I stayed with Mom for the week. Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done while I was caring for her, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, taking Mom to the doctor for follow-up visits from the emergency room, etc. However, the sacrifice is paying off because Mom is recovering very well and is now able to stay by herself for the most part. My siblings are checking on her frequently throughout the day and there is never anyone too far away should she need assistance.

But, as often happens, life threw the family another undodgeable ball. The younger brother of one of my brothers-in-law was killed in an auto accident Saturday night just a few miles from my mother's house. It was late at night and the roads were slick from a rare snow fall in southwestern Mississippi. Jason was only a year or so older than me and we'd grown up together. His family lived "across the woods" from mine when we were growing up, and our families spent many summers enjoying one another's company. Aside from being my brother-in-law's brother, he and I had been childhood friends and although our lives had taken us in different directions, he was still a part of our extended family. My heart breaks for everyone who lost a son, brother, uncle, and friend on Saturday night. Jason will be missed.

However, on a happier note, I get to spend the next week at home with Mark and my kitties before having to return to Mississippi for my oldest niece's wedding. It's hard to believe she's even old enough to get married, but she is. It seems like only yesterday she was scrunching up her nose and pronouncing "noodle" as "noonle" and being obsessive about Barbie. Oh, how time flies.

Speaking of how time flies, there will soon be a new addition to my family...other than the nephew-in-law I'll gain next week. My third nephew and his wife are expecting their first child any day now. My first great...whatever. I love being an aunt. I get to spoil 'em and run...and since I live in another state, I get plenty of mileage out of the spoiling and the running.

Now, as for news on BLOOD LAW, there has been some new developments. My wonderful editor, Danielle Perez, is leaving Random House to take an executive editor position at NAL/Penguin. While I'm sad to see her leave before BLOOD LAW is released, I wish her the best of luck in her new venture. She's an awesome editor and I've learned a lot from working with her. She'll be missed but I'm also excited about working with my new editor, Shauna Summers. Because of all the "Mama Drama" that's been going on with me lately, Shauna and I haven't had an opportunity to chat yet, but I'm sure we will soon enough. I'm really looking forward to getting to know her and working with her.

Also, another new development: As of December 7, (today) I'll be joining the Criminal Minds group blog as a regular contributor. I was invited to join by the wonderful Kelli Stanley and since as how that entire group of authors simply rocks, I couldn't say no. I'll be making my inaugural post shortly on the subject of "Have you ever worried about your family's reaction to a scene you wrote?" Short answer: Hell yeah. Long answer: You'll have to read it on Criminal Minds. ;)

And mark your calendars! By now you should know that BLOOD LAW is scheduled for release June 22, 2010. However, you may not be aware that on June 23, 2010, I will be having a virtual book launch party at Bitten by Books! There will be prizes, Q&A, and mass hysteria. I'll post more details as they become available, but mark your calendars now so you don't forget. (And if someone could make certain to remind me a few days in advance that would be great because I'll probably be a quivering pile of babbling goo on June 22.)

I think that covers all the updates I have for now. Be sure to check Criminal Minds later and then come back here for instructions in a new extreme sport that I and a couple of friends invited. You won't want to miss it. ;)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

BLOOD LAW cover is here!

Behold! The long awaited BLOOD LAW cover has arrived!


Point. Plot. Conspiracy. She shoots. She scores!

So...still wondering what the point was to my previous post?

Thought you might be since you're still hanging around.

My previous post, other than showing my wonderful ineptitude in navigating downtown Mobile, Alabama, was to illustrate the wrong turns, U-turns, and chaos associated with plotting novel.

When I first began writing, I didn't give much consideration to the central plot beyond "Event A leads to Event B leads to Event C leads to end." The first novel I ever completed -- which is securely locked away and will never see the light of day -- taught me a lot. The plot was straight with no real twists or turns but I learned a great deal about character development, setting, world building, and pacing. Unfortunately, the plot itself sucked major rotten eggs.

There is a long standing argument in publishing of whether books should be plot or character driven. I'm a bit odd in that I believe a truly great book should be both. It's like driving a car. A driver (the character) guides the car (the plot) along the highway (the unfolding story). The car does not guide itself. (And don't give me the argument that some cars in the future or on other hard sci-fi worlds do. Those are still piloted by a computerized navigation system that is capable of making decisions regarding alternate routes...or even better, going completely bonkers and crashing the car.) In order for the car (plot) to arrive at its destination (story's end), the driver (character) must guide it there. However, without the car (plot), the driver (character) can't reach his/her destination (story's end). That's not entirely true since the driver (character) can make a choice to either stay with the vehicle, thus potentially ending the story, or continue on foot, thus continuing the story and therefore, the plot.

Which brings us to a new fork in this road... Did the car crash because of a random computer glitch or was it sabotaged? Either choice can make for interesting plot developments. Does the driver stay with the vehicle or continue on foot? If s/he stays with the vehicle, does s/he call for help or does someone come along and find them? If s/he continues on foot, what potential dangers do they face? Are they hit by a drunk driver? Picked up by a good Samaritan? Reach their destination unharmed? These are the twists and turns along the road that make the journey interesting. For example...

Penelope leaves her home in Golden, Colorado earlier than normal because today is her boss's birthday. She drives through her neighborhood in the pre-dawn hours and reaches Interstate 70. She then heads east into the Denver metro area and arrives an hour early at her receptionist job at a downtown law firm in order to prepare for the boss's surprise party.

Boring. Let's try adding a few twists and turns...

Penelope leaves her home in Golden, Colorado earlier than normal because today is her boss's birthday. She spills coffee on her blouse as she drives through her neighborhood in the pre-dawn hours. Pissed off that she ruined her favorite blouse she reaches Interstate 70 and heads east into the Denver metro area. Traffic ahead has come to a complete standstill. She waits forty-five minutes and finally traffic begins to move forward. By now she's drank all her coffee and is even more pissed off. Another driver in a bright yellow Hummer cuts her off as she's exiting the interstate to enter downtown. Cursing wildly, she swerves around the Hummer and passes it. The Hummer shoots past her on the right side. Penelope floors it and over takes the Hummer. The other driver speeds up. Both drivers fail to see a red light and rocket into an intersection, into the path of oncoming traffic. The Hummer makes it through but Penelope's car is struck by garbage truck. Penelope is shaken up but suffers only minor injuries. She calls her boss, a partner in a high-profile law firm, and asks if he would mind picking her up at the emergency room since she has no family in the area. He agrees and when she is wheeled out of the ER to his car, she discovers he drives a bright yellow Hummer.

Now, having established this chain of events, the story can continue in any number of directions. Is her boss responsible for her accident? If so, was it an accident or intentional? If not, was it someone trying to frame her boss? Why would someone want to set him up? Will Penelope and her boss work together to solve the mystery or will they become legal adversaries? Was the driver of the garbage truck a hapless victim or part of a larger conspiracy?

My point here is this: A story is just a story but characters turn that story into an adventure. However, that adventure would never take place without those characters. Different characters create different adventures. I can say Penelope drove to work and pulled off a surprise birthday party for her boss in the same way that I got lost in downtown Mobile. However, if I say Penelope drove to work and found herself at the center of a plot to assassinate her boss, then suddenly the story has become larger -- it's become an adventure. The same can be said for my previous post. I could've easily said, "Hey, I got lost in downtown last week." But, I chose to recount my actions, the actions of others, and give details of what happened. My story became an adventure.

That is the plot and point of any novel -- to have an adventure. So, go forth and adventure, my minions.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

She went thatta way! No! That way! The other that way!

I confess. I live a double life.

I have an uncanny ability to memorize the layout of a building within minutes are remember where rooms are located. I retain these "blue prints" for years it seems. I remember the layout of a childhood friend's house and I only visited her home once for a birthday party before she moved away. Stores, airports, restaurants, office buildings, hotels...I memorize it all. A useful trick at conferences.

However, there is another side of me. The side that couldn't find its way out of a paper sack in the dark with two hands, a flashlight, and a map. Don't ask me which direction is north from any given spot because I can't tell you. The same goes for the other directions. And, no, the sun's position doesn't help because unless I see it moving I can't tell west from east. I often confuse left and right turns and have to back track. It's frustrating, really.

So you're probably wondering if there's a point to all this. There is. But first, an example of my fabulous sense of direction:

Last Tuesday I left home for my weekly Citizen's Academy meeting with the Mobile Police Department. I hadn't been there in a couple of weeks because of Bouchercon and post-travel recovery time. The path to where the meetings are held is familiar so it doesn't give me trouble...with the exception that it's close to downtown and I never go downtown by myself. One way streets confuse the hell out of me so I avoid that area whenever possible.

The trouble began with I arrived for the meeting to discover no one was there. Because I had some jackass following too closely behind me I wasn't able to slow down and make a U-turn in the parking lot like I wanted. I decided I'd go to the next major street and make the block. Sounded like a good plan at the time. Heh...yeah...right....

I turned left at the next major street knowing I needed to make a left to get back to Government Street and from there back home. Unfortunately, the street I'd chosen didn't lead back to Government, at least not right away. I'm searching for Government Street and realize too late that I'd just crossed it. I'm now in the land of one way streets and have no freaking clue what street I'm on anymore. All I know is that the street lights are getting further apart and dimmer by the second. Buildings are boarded up and the general vibe of the area is not a good one.

So I find a place to make a U-turn and call Mark. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: "I'm freaking out! I'm lost in downtown!"

Mark: "Where are you now?"

Me: "How the hell should I know? I'm fucking lost!"

Mark: "What street are you on?"

Me: "I don't know."

Mark: *sigh* "Do you see any cross streets?"

Me: "They don't have signs that I see. Wait. Here's one.... *driving through intersection* Damn it! That was Government. Again!"

Mark: "Turn around and go back."

Me: "All call you back in a few. Got to making another 'youie'."

I turned around and drove back to Government. Got in the left turn lane. Light changes and I'm heading I think.

If you've ever been to downtown Mobile you will know there are a few distinguishing landmarks. One is the newly built "skyscraper" with the unfinished looking top. (I don't know that official name of the building and honestly, don't really care.) Another landmark is the Bankhead Tunnel. I'm driving along Government and wondering why the skyscraper appears to be getting closer. If I'm heading west towards home, I shouldn't even see the damn thing. Now I'm utterly confused and to add to my confusion, I drive past the Bankhead Tunnel entrance. It finally dawns on me that I'm going the wrong direction.


Government Street literally runs into Water Street and your choices are left or right. I'm on the phone with Mark and waiting to turn right onto Water Street. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: "I went the wrong way. I'm turning right on Water Street now."

Mark: "Okay, you--"

Me: *sees a sign for I-10 East to Pensacola, Florida and a looming interstate on-ramp* "Crap! This is not what I wanted!" *quick turn onto Canal Street*

Mark: "What's going on?"

Me: "I can see I-10 but I can't get to it to go west. I'm on Canal Street. I think."

Mark: "Canal isn't going to take you--"

Me: *sees a 'No Outlet' sign* "Grrr! I fucking hate downtown!"

Mark: "Park somewhere and I'll come get you."

Me: "There are no street lights here. I'm not stopping. Hell no."

Mark: "Then what do you want me to do?"

Me: *making U-turn* "I'm heading back to Government. Once I get there, I can get home. I hope."

Once I finally was heading the right direction on Government Street, getting home was a snap. However, the whole ordeal was an hour of my life I'd rather have back. It certainly didn't enhance my love of driving downtown, and I mean downtown anywhere, not just Mobile. I had similar experiences when I lived in Denver, Colorado that didn't endear downtown Denver to my heart either. Then again, I also had similar experiences in both McComb and Brookhaven, Mississippi, and I grew up visiting those towns. I think any downtown area and I are destined for a rocky relationship.

So, now you're probably really wondering where my point is in this story. It's coming. Next post... ;-)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bouchercon 2009

October 14 was my mother’s birthday, and I spent it flying to Indianapolis for Bouchercon 2009, the premier event for mystery lovers. (Don’t worry about Mom. I called her and sang “Happy Birthday” over the phone during my Memphis layover. Good thing I can sort of actually carry a tune because several people stared at me like I’d sprouted a second head.)

Anyway, my flight to Indianapolis was relatively uneventful. Except for losing my boarding pass somewhere between Mobile and Memphis...on the freaking plane. I guess the gremlins stole it. Regardless, once I arrived in Memphis, I found my departure gate, explained what happened to the very nice clerk working the desk, and she printed a new pass for me. Next stop, coffee shop! I positioned myself where I could people watch while I waited for my next flight. People watching in an airport is a favorite hobby. I like to try to figure out where people are going, where they’ve been, what their life is like, etc. based on the way they dress and what luggage they bring with them. Yes, even when traveling, my mind is ever in the creative author mode.

After arriving in Indianapolis, and suffering through a sudden fit of coughing while at the baggage claim (Note to the security guard and other travelers who kept eyeing me during this time: I was not and am not contagious! Dust from the baggage carousel got caught in my throat.) The ride from the airport to the hotel was strange. Indianapolis is a big city and I’d expected to see more traffic on the roadways during the middle of the week. The streets were strangely empty. It was kind of freaky, actually.

The hotel was great. The lobby was a huge open-air atrium deal with glass elevators. I loved riding the elevators because I could easily see who was milling around in the lobby before I arrived. It was a helpful perk when searching for my pals Kelli Stanley, Rebecca Cantrell, Andrew Peterson, and Laura Benedict.

This was my first ever Bouchercon and I had a blast. Not only because I was able to reconnect with a lot of my friends or make new friends but because everyone was so friendly. I also didn’t have any panels, sessions, or workshops to prepare for so that left me completely free to enjoy myself and the company around me.

In addition to having a great time at Bouchercon, I was able to hang out for a bit with the fabulous Charlaine Harris and some of her fans, which I am at heart ‘cause I totally love Charlaine! (Thanks, Debi and Becci, for inviting me to join the festivities! I had a great time and look forward to seeing y’all at Romantic Times in April.) I also went on a forced march, uh, make that “self-guided walking tour” of downtown Indianapolis with Rebecca Cantrell and Tana Hall. We saw some amazing architecture, had a lot of fun, and walked...and walked...and walked. The most important fact is that we had a lot of fun.

Another great thing about Bouchercon was that I got to see my wonderful editor. We talked about BLOOD LAW, “Book 2”, and cover art. (Yes, it’s on the way. As soon as I get official word it’s available for release, I’ll post it. Patience, minions, patience.) Also, another of Ms. Editor’s authors, Brett Battles, won a Barry Award for Best Thriller (The Deceived) at Bouchercon. Congrats to Brett! He’s an outstanding author –- a well-deserved win.

Bouchercon was wrapped up on October 18 and I flew home the following day. Once again I had a layover in Memphis. I admit I was people watching again in hopes of having a “sighting” of a certain singer, but alas...

Next year’s Bouchercon will be held in San Francisco, home to my good friend and author extraordinaire, Kelli Stanley. I’m hoping to attend but haven’t fully committed yet. It’s still a year away so I have a little time. :)

So, that pretty well wraps up my report of Bouchercon. Next up, a quick lunch break and then I’ll be back for more catching up.

Catching Up

The past few weeks have been crazy. I'm playing catch up now and have finally moved on to updating the blog. Yay!

Expect multiple postings in the near future. Consider yourselves warned. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

BLOOD LAW available as e-book!

I'm happy to announce that BLOOD LAW will be available in paperback and e-book formats! Check my Random House Author Page for more details.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bad boys... Bad boys... What'cha gonna do?

I didn't post after the last two Citizen's Academy nights because I knew I would be hitching a ride with a Mobile patrol officer, and I wanted to save my blogging for the "good stuff."

First, let me catch up on the Citizen's Academy goings-on. Basically, anyone can make a complaint to the internal affairs division. Whether that complaint is actually handled by IAD as opposed to the officer's direct supervisor depends on the seriousness of the complaint. Vice squad handles the drug and prostitution stuff. The K9 unit...all I can say is this: Do NOT mess with the dogs. If you're ever in a situation where cops bring in the dog and tell you to "Come out or we send in the dog, and you will be bitten!" -- believe them. The juvenile/youth crimes division has one of the hardest jobs. I won't go into detail as to what they investigate, but it's not only heartbreaking but frustrating for them to deal with it all.

Now...on to the "good stuff."

I arrived at the Second Precinct in time for roll call. The officers were discussing some of the issues/calls they'd seen the previous night. This past weekend was Bayfest here in Mobile -- big music festival -- and the calls were numerous and varied. Everyone hoped for a quiet night. As often happens, talking about these hopes led to the opposite.

My assigned officer and I received the first call within moments of leaving the precinct. We were heading to the Tillman's Corner area for the night and answered a call about dogs running loose in a neighborhood. The dogs had allegedly attacked a neighbor's dog and chased a couple of kids down the street. We arrived on the scene to discover what appeared to be a German Shepard and a great Dane had managed to get out of a fenced yard. There wasn't much to do other than watch the dogs to keep them from going after anyone else until animal control arrived. We were off to a rousing start.

Second call was to go pick up a shoplifter. Another officer provided backup, which seems to be standard procedure for any call, and actually transported the suspect to Metro jail. We then proceeded to regular patrol.

Patrolling is exactly what it sounds like. The officers ride around for 12-hour shifts, responding to calls as they come in, and actively looking for suspicious activity. Naturally, these guys know the "hot spots" and check them frequently. I can honestly say that I've seen parts of the Mobile metro area I never care to see again. It didn't take long for the first of the "Code 3" * runs to come across the radio.

A call came in regarding a young child jumping from a vehicle at a red light only to be snatched up again by the driver.

There's something both exciting and frightening about speeding through nearly empty, darkened streets at 90 mph with blue and white strobe lights reflecting off pavement and surroundings. The siren echoes off the buildings in places and on the radio when other officers call in their positions while they have their sirens activated. Plus, there is the X-factor of not knowing what you'll find once you arrive on the scene. Lots of thoughts run through your mind...and if you're blessed with an overactive imagination as I am, none of them are good.

Fortunately, this call turned out to be a case of a kid being pissed off at his mother and showing the poor judgement of "I'll show you and run away right now, right here in the middle of the street." Thankfully, the mother caught him before he was harmed. Thankfully, the kid was frightened enough by all the cops showing up that maybe he won't do something so boneheaded again. (Although the officers did offer to shackle him and run him into Metro, but his mother declined the offer, opting to "deal with him when we get home.")

From there, we returned to our appointed area of patrol. Actually we were on our way to respond to burglary call when we spotted a speeder and got to have a little bit of a chase. Nothing major...a few blocks and speeds under 100, mainly in the 80 range. Ticket issued and we were on our way.

Once we, and the backup unit, arrived at the burglary call, I was very impressed with the professionalism both officers exhibited. They asked a lot of questions, checked the point of entry and the area from which the items were taken, dusted for prints, gathered as much information/evidence as possible, and treated the homeowners with both respect and compassion while maintaining their authority. My assigned officer was very accommodating when I asked questions later about the process I witnessed, the next steps, and even the paperwork he was required to complete. In fact, he readily answered all my questions, although I tried not to ask too many or distract him while he was driving at high speeds...which leads us to the next series of calls.

We were patrolling when a call of a fight was made to 911. The caller said the individuals involved were armed to the point it sounded like a near riot. Naturally, everyone headed to the area. Luckily, by the time we arrived, the fight had broken up...and it wasn't as big as it was described. Mainly a family dispute and it was back to answering calls and patrolling.

It was while we were in the southernmost areas of the precinct's coverage that a call came over the radio of shots being fired with injuries. This was the first call where I felt really apprehensive. Because we were so far out, we had to literally burn rubber to get back. I can verify that there is very little traffic on the streets of Mobile in the wee hours of the morning, or on I-65. Good thing. As we headed back into town, we traveled north on I-65 with speeds hitting about 110 mph. The suspects, unfortunately, evaded capture and it was later learned the victim wasn't as seriously injured as initially thought. Things calmed down and it was back to routine patrol.

We answered calls regarding assaults, 911 hang ups, loitering, and other "minor" stuff for a while. Then another call of shots being fired was issued and we were off and running again. If you've ever watched the TV show "COPS" and seen instances where a bunch of units arrive on a scene and the cops have guns drawn, pointed at a suspect on the ground, and are actively searching both a house and the was one of those. I chose to remain in the car for this call. When my officer got there and reached for the shotgun that hung over my head, you better believe I'm staying out of the way. He and his fellow officers have other things to worry about than me.

The scene was cleared and as we where leaving, a call of a possible wreck and/or shooting came over the radio. You guessed it. Light, sirens, the smell of burning rubber. I know understand why all law enforcement patrol cars tend to look a bit battered and sound like they are halfway to their vehicular graves. They never stop moving for more than a few minutes at a time and even when they're parked, the cars are normally left running...locked...but running.

By this time, it was only an hour or so away from the end of the shift. We returned to the precinct in order for paperwork to be filed before the official end. I parted company with my assigned officer at this point.

The night was interesting, informative, fun, exciting, and at times, scary, and I'm so happy I did it. I'd love to do it again one day and maybe I will. But for now, I'll be content to stay in front of my computer and leave the "good stuff" to the professionals.

* "Code 3" is when an officer response to a call with full lights, siren, and speed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't Panic!

Last night was another session of the Mobile Police Department's citizen's academy. (I did not try to drown myself with a water bottle this week!) We learned about the various precincts, different areas within the department, saw video from a dashboard camera of a pursuit that ended in a shoot out (The officer involved was uninjured and the two car thieves were arrested.), and saw some of the cool toys Mobile PD uses, including Segways and the ultra coolest, Sky Watch. (Right: example of a Sky Watch mobile observation tower.)

We also signed up for "ride alongs" with patrol officers. I chose to ride with someone from the precinct in which I live and to report for morning roll call in order to get the "full experience." The patrol officers work in 12-hours shifts. I'm going to attempt to stay for the entire shift. I don't know if I'll make it the full 12-hours, but I'm going to try. The "ride along" is scheduled for Friday...chosen because Mark will be working from home that day and my day of editing BLOOD LAW would be somewhat disrupted anyway. Plus, I'd rather sleep in on Saturday.

Speaking of BLOOD LAW, if you have already pre-ordered through (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!), you probably received an email stating the release date has changed from May 25, 2010, to June 22, 2010. Don't panic! This isn't really a "delay" so much as a "correction." Dell, my publisher, has said from day one that I was scheduled for a June 2010 release. This was not unexpected. All you have to do is follow the instructions in Amazon's email to accept the changed date. (And, please, do so before the deadline listed in the email, otherwise, I believe your order will be cancelled!)

Bouchercon 2009 is only a few weeks away! My schedule is rapidly filling up with all the requests for lunch, coffee, drinks, and dinner. (Sorry, folks, but Friday, October 16 is booked solid, including lunch with Ms. Editor and Ms. Publisher, and the Random House cocktail party.) When, why, and how did I become...popular? It amazes me. I'm just a geeky gal from the Mississippi backwoods, never "popular" or "cool" in high school, and now...suddenly...people know my name and want to hang out with me. It's all very surreal to me.

While on the subject of surreal, I've confirmed my attendance to the RT Booklovers Convention in Columbus, OH -- April 28-May 2, 2010. This is the first confirmed conference appearance for next year -- and my first RT Convention, period. I've heard wild stories. Don't know if I'm ready for this or not, but I'll be there. Other appearances are in the works and I'll keep everyone posted as news becomes available.

One tiny final conference-related bit of trivia here... One of Mark's (former) co-workers, Mike, (Hey, dude! *waves*) recently moved to San Diego, CA. Mike has been a great and early supporter for BLOOD LAW and I made a deal with him. If he can provide 100 people to show up for a book signing at the Random House booth, I would attend San Diego Comic Con next year. Mike's response: "I can do this." comes the question, "Can he do this?" If memory serves me correctly, I believe the last count for BLOOD LAW attendees stood at 7. Will he make it? Will I attend SDCC? *looks at calendar* Hmm...I don't know...only time will tell...

Of course, all these appearances hinge on BLOOD LAW's release. To that end, I should probably get back to work. So....


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cops and Wet T-shirts

Yesterday was a busy day here at Hacienda del Holmes. Naturally, the cats were spazzing most of the morning. Scraps of paper, dust bunnies, and shed whiskers become mighty dragons in their minds. There was a whole lotta pouncing, chasing, and general mayhem. (Only Nugget was in a dragon-slaying mood this morning, so it was relatively quiet.)

I spent most of the day catching up on emails and doing other "housekeeping" type stuff until it was time for Ms. Editor to call and discuss the final round of edits for BLOOD LAW. It's all minor tweaking in the vein of adding a sentence or two here and there to clarify things. It shouldn't take long to wrap these up at all. Huzzah! We also discussed the plan for Book 2 and she gave the official green light on it. (Good thing, too, since I already started writing it. Hehe.) We also discussed other Super Secret Items Which I'm Not Currently At Liberty To Divulge. *evil author grin* Overall, it was a good conversation that left me completely jazzed to get to work on these edits.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to start work right away. Last night was the opening night for the Mobile Police Department's "Citizen's Academy" and I was selected to participate in the program. I spent three glorious hours learning some of the basic foundations of law enforcement. According to our schedule of events, the next 11-weeks are going to be filled with information and fun. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about their community and how the police operate within it to check with their local PD and see if they offer a "Citizen's Academy" type program. It's a great way to get to know your neighbors, the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect us all, and have a little fun in the process.

Of course, being the complete klutz that I am, I can't go anywhere in public without doing something to embarrass myself. The Academy staff provided light food fare -- finger sandwiches, fried chicken wings, barbecue meatballs, and beverages -- for everyone. I chose to stick with water as my beverage of choice. Everything is going great when suddenly the water bottle slips as I'm taking a sip. What is the most natural of reactions when something starts slipping from your hand? You tighten your grip. Well, you can guess what happened next.


Water up the nose. Water splashed all over my chest. (When I told Mark about the incident, his reaction was to laugh hysterically and say that I should've told everyone I was "there for the wet T-shirt contest." Yes, I smacked him.)

*sigh* Only I can nearly drown myself with a bottle of water while surrounded by about thirty people, including five or six highly trained cops, and at least one nurse.

This is why I often avoid the buffets and such at cocktail parties and stick to non-alcoholic drinks served in real glasses. I'm a klutz. If I can possibly drip, dribble, spill, stain, or otherwise embarrass the hell out of myself, I'll find a way to do it. I don't even have to be at an important function. I can do the same whenever Mark and I go out for dinner. It happens so frequently that we've created a motto: "If Jeannie doesn't drip, it wasn't worth the trip." Grace in motion, I am not.

Oh well... All these little embarrassments build character. Right? Right?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Visit my Random House author page

Check out my Random House Author Spotlight page! (Dell Publishing is an imprint of Random House.)

There isn't much to see at the moment other than my name and you can pre-order BLOOD LAW directly from the publisher. However, you can sign up for the Author Alert e-mails to learn all the latest updates.

Jeannie Holmes - Random House Author Spotlight

Blog Consolidation

I'm consolidating my LiveJournal, MySpace, and other blogs to a central location:

Wayward Muses and Shiny Object: Random thoughts and experiences of paranormal suspense and dark urban fantasy author Jeannie Holmes.

The reason behind this is a simple one -- my time has become increasingly valuable now that BLOOD LAW is rocking along to publication and I'm working on the sequel (lovingly referred to as "Book 2," "Alex WIP," or "AAAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!"). Tons of things are hitting at once and I no longer have the time to update forty bazillion individual sites.


I'm going to try to consolidation thing and see how it works. I've already moved a few important posts from other blogs to the new digs. Don't know how long this new venture will last, but I'm giving it a shot. Hope you'll stick around for a while. :)


BLOOD LAW is available for pre-order!

I can't decide if I should be jumping for joy or having a panic attack so I think I'll just go stand in the corner and babble incoherently for a little while.

Support your local indie book stores! Call or stop by and ask them to pre-order BLOOD LAW by Jeannie Holmes.
Publisher: Dell (May 25, 2010)
ISBN-10: 055359267X
ISBN-13: 978-0553592672

BLOOD LAW is available for pre-order on -- Click here to visit the pre-order page.

BLOOD LAW is available for pre-order on -- Click here to visit the pre-order page.

BLOOD LAW is available for pre-order on -- Click here to visit the pre-order page.

I really should update this more often...

Quick update and then it's back to work:

I don't have much to report on BLOOD LAW other than to say thanks to everyone who's supported me and the book this far. Hang in there, guys!

Currently, I'm working on the sequel to BLOOD LAW. Lots of cool stuff happening in this one. Of course, I can't tell you about any of it yet. You'll just have to wait. (Yes, I'm one of *those* evil authors.)

And... I'm now officially one of the cool kids. My membership in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America was confirmed today (August 13)! Yay!

Bouchercon 2009 is rapidly approaching and I'm looking forward to it. I have a lot of writer friends who will be there as well and I always love to see them. Also looking forward to meeting some of my advance supporters -- you know who you are! Bouchercon will be my final conference for the year so I can concentrate on the next book. The conference schedule for 2010 is already in the planning stages. I'll announce where I'll be and when as the dates are confirmed.

A little birdie told me that my friend and mentor, Carolyn Haines, has a new book available -- GREEDY BONES. I've also been told that page 124 is particularly interesting...but I can say no more. Go buy the book if you want to know. *eg*

Speaking of Carolyn Haines, DELTA BLUES, a collection of short crime stories set in the Mississippi Delta will be published by Tyrus Books in spring 2010. Some of the contributing authors include Charlaine Harris, John Grisham, James Lee Burke, Toni L. P. Kelner, and many more. Carolyn served as the editor for the anthology. Be sure to check out the DELTA BLUES website for more information.

I think that covers all the news that isn't really news. Now, it's back to work.


The Big Announcement -- The Book Formerly Titled CRIMSON SWAN

As often happens in publishing, book titles change. Why they change can vary and really unimportant in the grand scheme. What matters is that the title is memorable and reflects the story unfolding between the covers. With that said, my debut novel has undergone a title change and I couldn't be more excited...

CRIMSON SWAN is now officially titled BLOOD LAW!
Poster from ThrillerFest 2009 advertising Random House books and authors, including BLOOD LAW by Jeannie Holmes. No, that isn't the official cover. Cover art hasn't yet been created for BLOOD LAW.

Title changes aren't made lightly and without due consideration. Changing to BLOOD LAW is a joint decision between my publisher, my editor, and myself. We all feel that it better captures the essence of the story and we're all super excited about it.

Also new is the release date. BLOOD LAW is slated for release next summer (2010) from Bantam Dell. I'll keep you, my loyal minions, posted on the date as the release draws closer.

During my recent trip to New York, I discussed Book 2 with my editor and many other things. I can't reveal everything yet -- Patience, my minions, patience! -- but it's all good...really good...evilly good, in fact. Trust me.

In closing, I'd like to thank you, my loyal minions, for your early and continued support for BLOOD LAW. You'll be rewarded.

Thanks to Ms. Agent for her words of wisdom, insight, and unfaltering guidance. You're the bestest!

Thanks to Ms. Editor for her understanding, flexibility, and the occasional swift kick in the ass. It's much appreciated and that thing you wanted will be on your desk by week's end.