Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving is Just over and Now Everyone's Talking Christmas

This year is flying by way too fast.

For the Thanksgiving holiday we went over the hill (Interstate 5 which connects the Central Valley where we live to Southern California) and through the orange groves (Fillmore, Santa Paula, Oxnard) to Camarillo and my youngest daughter's home. We went on Thanksgiving morning as she was having dinner at 5 p.m. to accomodate my eldest daughter and hubby and a granddaughter and her family who were coming in from San Francisco on their way home. A lot of people were traveling the same way we were.

We stopped for lunch at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Fillmore, El Pescador, which was only going to be open until 2 p.m. so all the employees could celebrate Thanksgiving.

After our arrival at daughter's home we got to spend some time with grandson who was visiting from Aspen where he's a police officer and his girlfriend and we also met our youngest granddaughter's boyfriend. Before dinner people began pouring over the ad papers deciding which Christmas sale they wanted to hit.

Dinner was scrumptious and most of us played Estimation afterwards. At midnight, two of our group headed off to the Outlet Mall. (I was in bed by this time--but ever so often I'd hear the garage door open and close because people had different time and store destinations.)

At 8:30 a.m. I went along with a group to another mall to see what we could find in the way of bargains. I did find a present for one of my granddaughters.

We came back to daughter's to eat leftovers--yum. Spent one more night, then headed home along with thousands of others.

Everyone I know has been sending me emails or posting on Facebook that they've already put up all their Christmas decorations. Not me. I wish I could wiggle my nose and have it happen. I find that every year I put up less and less knowing that whatever I put out will have to be put away.

I love Christmas and all it stands for--but the older I get the harder it is to do all the things connected with the celebration. I just wish it didn't start before Thanksgiving is even over with.

I must confess I have done some Christmas shopping--but now I have to wrap the gifts.

Sounds like I'm complaining and I guess I am. Back in the olden days (my olden days) I always had big kids around to help me wrap. All those kids have grown up and are now doing their own wrapping.

In any case, you might as well tell me what you've done toward Christmas and whatever holiday you may be celebrating.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Festival of Lights

"Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead might well have been talking about the Maccabees, the Jewish insurgents who led a revolt against King of Syria Antiochus IV, in the second century BC. It is this triumph of a small group of Jews against the Seleucid Empire that is celebrated at Chanukah, the Jewish festival which begins this week at sundown on Wednesday.

Thanks to Wikipedia, let me recount quickly why Jews light a menorah, play dreidl, and eat latkes.

Chanukah (and it's spelled a multitude of ways Hanukah, Hanukkah, and my preferred way of starts with a "c" and only has one "k"), marks the time when Jews regained control of Jerusalem and then rededicated the Temple after its desecration by Antiochus's forces. It was the equivalent of David slaying Goliath. But that wasn't the only miracle that Chanukah celebrates. When the Jews regained the Temple, there was just one vial of consecrated oil left to light the eternal flame in the Temple – and it takes eight days to make fresh holy oil. But the small amount which should have lasted one day, lasted eight. Therefore we light a candelabra known as a menorah that has room for eight candles and, one more a Shamash, an additional candle that is used to light the others. We light one additional candle each night so that by the eighth night the menorah is fully ablaze. We place the candles in the menorah from right to left because Hebrew is read that way (the opposite of how English is read).

Dreidl, a four-sided top with a hebrew letter on each side, is played to commemorate how Jews, forbidden to study Torah, used to meet secretly to learn. But if soldiers approached, the Jews would begin playing with tops, so that it looked like they were gambling, not studying. Each side of the dreidl has a Hebrew letter that together represents the statement, Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there".

During the holiday, we eat latkes and other fried foods (like donuts) to remember the miracle of the oil.

Gift giving is a tradition, not a religious dictate. Like many families, my husband and I have always tried to walk that tightrope of giving gifts to our kids without forgetting the real purpose of the holiday. It's an inspirational story that carries a message far beyond what happened all those many years ago. It's a reminder that each of us can make a difference.

As we light the first candle on Wednesday night, we'll draw strength from those who went before us who remained firm in their convictions, despite the overwhelming odds against them. We'll sing about the miracle of the oil and we'll rejoice in being together.

Below is my recipe for latkes – Enjoy!

4-6 large potatoes, peeled and shredded (a food processor makes this much simpler, but you can use a hand grater)
1 small onion, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of baking powder
Oil for frying

Grate potatoes and then squeeze out all liquid.
Add grated onion, egg, flour, salt, and baking powder.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into hot oil. Fry on both sides then drain on paper towel.
Serve with applesauce. I also serve with sour cream.

Marian, the Northern Half of Evelyn David

Note to our readers:
Today is cyber Monday. Gift shopping has never been easier. You can order online The Sullivan Investigation Series or the Brianna Sullivan Mysteries. A good mystery is always a welcome present. Enjoy!

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake - Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books - Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries

- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, November 26, 2010

Please Like Me Anyway

by Rachel Brady

Three things never get easier for me:

1. Small talk
2. Fundraising
3. Book promotion

I can't grow plants, carry a tune, or do plenty of other things either, but the things on this list seem to present the most handicaps for me in life.

Small talk is tiring. Expending energy to have non-conversations exhausts me. I prefer to save my enthusiasm for other exchanges that actually have a point, or at least some real, honest-to-goodness entertainment value.

Fundraising is an enigmatic blend of Love and Hate. I want to support all my causes and be a part of the solution, but how do I do that without annoying humankind? I don't like making shoppers avoid eye contact or causing homeowners to feign absenteeism when I ring their doorbells. ("Just give me your order forms, kids. I'll buy all the cookies myself.")

But the worst is book promotion. Don't tell my publisher, but I would rather stab myself in the eye with a pencil.

My first book was in print before I told anyone I knew that I liked to write. Admitting to trying to write a novel felt pompous somehow, so I did all my writing in secret. This was fine until it actually got published. Then I wanted everyone to know. But I didn't want to have to be the one to tell them. It is strange how something that was personally so rewarding also made me extremely self-conscious.

Letting the world know that a new book is out, for me, sounds something like this: "I wrote a book and I hope you will read and enjoy it but don't misunderstand me I'm not pressuring you to buy it oh nevermind forget I brought it up please like me anyway here's my card."

In publishing, they tell us that nobody will buy a book they don't know exists. Authors are encouraged to market ourselves, speak widely (I think this includes small talk), maintain a web presence, use Facebook, tweet like crazy people, place ads, schmooze, network, hob-nob, and wash cars on street corners in bikinis. Whatever it takes to get the word out.

It really suits some people. For me, everything about book promotion feels uncomfortable and awkward so I'm trying to think of creative ways to get other people to do it for me. I'm bartering books for banter over at my blog for the next week. And I would would really appreciate it if you guys would stop over and help me out.

I'll give away a book here today too. Leave a comment to enter. It shouldn't be a pep talk like, "Go get 'em! Be confident!" because that doesn't work on me. Rather, I think the signed copy will go to the commenter with the best "Foot in Mouth" story. Because, really. Who doesn't enjoy a good Foot in Mouth story?

One last thing. If you are a librarian or book club groupie, or if you know one, I always have a standing offer to send a signed copy of either of my titles to folks who introduce Emily Locke to their reading groups.

This concludes my awkward "I have a new book out" post. Please like me anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Santa, Baby, by Misa

It's Thanksgiving... Happy Turkey Day!!!

Along with fabulous food and family, Thanksgiving means it's officially okay (in my book) to begin thinking about Christmas. I like to finish one holiday before I move onto the next.

This year I’ve already done something special... a Santa making class with my mom in a nearby historic town. It was awesome.

We started with nothing.

Then we cut, sewed, and stuffed.

On a sewing high...

Next we added a face and beard.

Then we adorned.

Adorning is the best.

These are some seriously cool Santas. Theysell for $200 !!!! And now I know how to make them. Granted, I need materials. Beads and trims and fabric, oh my.

Teacher gifts, here we come! (although they'll be a less expensive, teacher-y fun version)

Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, which means Christmas is around the corner, what do you do to get into the holiday spirit?

Misa Ramirez / Melissa Bourbon
Get free books at Books on the House!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's All about the Turkey...and the Blessings

Here at the Stiletto Gang, we’re a very close group, even though we all live in different parts of the country. I’ll speak for all of us when I say that we’re all very thankful to be together. I, for one, learn something new every year about one or more of our members, but I always want to learn more. Like, do you eat cranberry sauce out of a can, too? Or is there a difference between yams and sweet potatoes? These are the things that keep me up at night so I posed these and some other questions to the other members of our blog. See what they have to say below. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving. We are so grateful to have you all in our lives, too!

(My answers are in parentheses. Because that's how I roll.)

1. What are you thankful for this year? (My health, my great family, a new book [pubbed on Tuesday!], an everything else that makes me so, so happy.)

Marilyn: For my family and for all my blessings.

Rhonda: Thankful for my family, that my eye surgery is done, that Marian is well and we're writing like crazy again, and that the state agency I work for (my day job) survived the budget cuts of 2010.

Susan: I'm thankful that my mom is okay after her breast cancer diagnosis, and she's doing so well. I'm very grateful as ever for my friends who keep me propped up when I need it! And for my husband who's the best guy I've ever met in my life. Oh, and I'm a little happy, too, that I got one deadline met (two to go!).

Rachel: Healthy children and a steady paycheck.

Marian: I have so much for which to be thankful, good health (poo, poo), wonderful family, incredibly supportive friends, and now the most delightful grandchild, Ms. Riley Giselle.

2. Sweet potatoes or yams? Do you consider them the same thing? (I don't know the difference...that's why I asked.)

Marilyn: Sweet potatoes, don’t like yams nearly as well. We have baked sweet potatoes a lot during the year and candied sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.

Rhonda: Yep - I consider them both "baaaad." Grin.

Susan: Aren't they the same?

Rachel: Yes, sweet potatoes. Yes, yams. Yes, call them whatever you want. Another helping, please.

Marian: I consider them the same thing and it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them. On the other hand, except for Turkey Day, I can pass on sweet potatoes the rest of the year.

3. Is turnip included in the meal? Does anyone eat it? (Yes...and yes...but I make my mom make it because I don't know what a raw turnip looks like.)

Marilyn: No turnips.

Rhonda: Nope. No one in my family eats them.

Susan: Um, no. I had no idea turnips were part of Turkey Day until this minute.

Rachel: No turnips. Fast forward >>> to pumpkin pie.

Marian: Hey, don't knock the turnip. I love 'em…and so does my husband. But all offspring of ours think we're crazy. On the other hand (and how many do I have), those same offspring eat raw fish which is inconceivable to me.

4. Family culinary tradition that you must include? (Ours is canned cranberry sauce...if it doesn't have the lines from the can on it, it's not good.)

Marilyn: Most want the green bean casserole.

Rhonda: Stuffing - must have stuffing or you can forget the whole thing. My mother makes it in muffin tins - great for individual servings and reheating later as leftovers. We also have a cranberry, apple, cherry jello ring that is wonderful.

Susan: We do the canned cranberry sauce, too! Love cutting it along the ridges. Green bean casserole with french onions and cream of mushroom soup. "Corn crap," which is one of my mom's specialties (it's corn casserole). And always pumpkin and pecan pies.

Marian: The aforementioned sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top.

5. What secrets to a delicious holiday meal do you have? (I brine...trust me, it makes a difference.)

Marilyn: My secret this year is going to youngest daughter’s for the Thanksgiving feast.

Rhonda: Mom starts defrosting the turkey about 3 days ahead of time in an ice chest in the garage. She floats it in cold water and changes the water when it gets warm. Thanks to Mom none of us have gotten poisoned by bad turkey yet.

Susan: I'm not allowed to make anything except occasionally I'll do an organic take on the green bean casserole or do a broccoli crunch salad. Otherwise, my family is afraid to let me touch the turkey.

Rachel: Someone other than me should cook.

Marian: I don't brine, but my son does. I leave it in his good hands. Best secret of a holiday meal? Don't worry about the food, focus on the people around the table. I honestly wouldn't care if we ate bologna sandwiches as long as we are together. Well, together and there's something chocolate after the bologna.

6. Does anyone eat dark meat in your family? Are they considered an outcast? (I'm a dark meat eater and definitely not an outcast...if I'm not getting enough attention or it seems like I'm heading towards outcast land, I just throw up some jazz hands at the dinner table.)

Marilyn: White meat is the favorite, but the dark meat get eaten too, we always have to so many people.

Susan: I can't recall if we have any dark meat eaters. Sounds like Voldemort's gang in Harry Potter, doesn't it (the Dark Meat Eaters)?

Rachel: Dark meat is what kids are for. Keep the ruse up until they get wise to you. I guess that’s another thing I’m thankful for.

Marian: Again, with the assumptions. Yes, someone in my family eats dark meat, in fact prefers it…and that's me. As to whether I'm an outcast, don't forget who generally brings the chocolate.

7. Worst Thanksgiving ever? (Ours was when our eight-months pregnant mother fell down the stairs with the turkey. Now, I'm not sure why she was traversing the stairs...I think it had something to do with a broken oven and the use of the next-door neighbor's oven, but I can't remember. I'll have to find out.)

Marilyn: When we had to go out and eat because I was working.

Rhonda: I think the worst one was when we were at my grandmother's house when I was about 8 or 9. It was very cold outside. My dad's cousin showed up right after dinner and - unbeknownst to anyone else - let his dog stay in the enclosed back porch area while he visited in the main part of the house. My grandmother had the leftover from a 26 lb. turkey cooling in a roaster oven on a table in that porch area. Well, you can imagine what happened. Lots of yelling, an overstuffed dog, and no leftover turkey for us that year.

Susan: I'm sure I've blacked it out by now.

Marian: Can't think of any that were outstandingly bad. I know the first Thanksgiving after the deaths of my parents were harder than I could ever have imagined.

8. Best Thanksgiving ever? (I think it's going to be this year.)

Marilyn: Any where a lot of family can come.

Rhonda: Probably the same Thanksgiving. Grin. It was very exciting.

Susan: Every Thanksgiving since I met Ed. I love getting together with his family and mine. He has a BIG family, and it's so fun to see everyone, their spouses, and their kids and catch up.

Marian: Every year. This holiday is a lovely reminder to be thankful for the blessings in my life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nearing the End of My Latest Book and...

The small publisher I'm with for my Rocky Bluff P.D. series doesn't give me deadlines. Because I always manage to finish and send a completed manuscript off to her in a timely manner she's never asked me to have it completed by a certain date.

The one I'm working on now I'm having trouble finishing. I'm only pages from the end, but I don't want to write what I know has to happen.

This is kind of a departure from my other Rocky Bluff P.D. novels, usually they've focused on the lead detectives and their families. The one that is coming out at the beginning of the year is really Stacey Wilbur's story as her wedding day draws near.

But this book is all about Officer Gordon Butler. He's kind of been the buffoon through several books with nothing working out for him from his wife running off with another police officer to wrecking a brand new police car. Readers really like Gordon, and feel sorry for him, and I thought it would be fun to put him in the spotlight for a change.

What I wasn't counting on was the fact that he is still the same Gordon Butler. Maybe because I'm the writer I thought I was in control, but as so many of us learn as we write that the characters tend to take charge and do their own thing.

I'm determined to finish this book before the end of the year. By giving myself a deadline, I hope it will happen.

Another problem with this book is I almost always have a title right from the beginning--this time I haven't a clue what I'll call it. Since my critique group is hearing this one now, chapter by chapter, I'm hoping they'll help me come up with the perfect title. I know that often the big publishers will change an author's title for a book--but I've never had that happen with any of the small publishers I've been with.

So, wish me luck as I run out of things I think I have to do before I work on the last chapter of this book.


Monday, November 22, 2010

The Blessings of the Season

I'm not sure how it can be Thanksgiving already. I haven't even changed my closet from summer to winter, so how can it be time to roast a turkey?

Time flies when you're having fun and actually the last few months have indeed been fun. I like what the collective Evelyn David is writing…actually I like that we're writing at all. It seemed like we hit the pause button over the summer, but then took off at lightspeed with the dawn of Labor Day. Writing the Brianna Sullivan e-books has been, quite simply, a hoot. The Southern half of this writing duo asked me the other day if it was bad form to be laughing uproariously at your own jokes. She had just re-read I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries, originally penned four years ago, and said she laughed long and loud. I know it's good when you like what you are writing – or for that matter, enjoy whatever your job may be. So I'm truly thankful for this partnership that is also a wonderful friendship.

Oh, what the heck, let me keep on this thankful post, and talk about how lucky I am, blessed indeed, that The Stiletto Gang are my "peeps." We are a disparate group of women of all ages, sizes, geographic locations, and points in our lives – and yet there is a sense of solidarity and support that is incredibly empowering. I have met in person only one of the Gang, and oddly enough it's not the woman with whom I write books. Maggie Barbieri lives about a half hour away. But I often get just the email I need from someone in the group who might literally live across the country, but knows I need a pick-me-up. Sometimes, it's to reassure me that "yes, you will write again," when I am convinced that my writing career is over (if it should ever have begun). Sometimes, it's when there's a personal crisis, and someone has "been there, done that" and knows just will make the difference to get me out of the funk. These women I've never met are more than colleagues, they're friends.

Writing, even with a partner, can be a lonely profession. I'm not sure how Hemingway and Fitzgerald managed to make it through the day without the reassurance I get from knowing that there is a group of writers out there who are no more than a click of a computer screen away. Of course, Ernest and Scott drank a lot so maybe that's how they managed.

I don't need turkey and stuffing to know that I have been blessed, in my personal life and professional one too. Before we eat our Thanksgiving feast, we always recite a Shehecheyanu prayer. It's a Jewish blessing of thanksgiving. I offer it for you.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion. Amen.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

Note to Readers: To celebrate the publication of the Wolfmont edition of Murder Takes the Cake, we're having a drawing each Friday for an autographed copy of Murder Off the Books or Murder Takes the Cake (winner's choice). To enter the drawing, leave a comment on our website - http://www.evelyndavid.com/

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake - Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books - Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ding Dong, Deadline Calling!

As I write this, I'm down to the wire on my deadline for Little Black Dress, my tale of two sisters, a daughter, and a magical dress that changes all their lives forever. It's something different for me after writing series mysteries, a YA nonmystery series, and contemporary women's fiction. Little Black Dress mixes the past and the present (okay, with a pinch of mystery!), and it alternates between two very different voices.

I just finished proofing 300 pages after staying up late and working through the weekends to get this baby done. It's weird how deadlines never seem that intimidating until, oh, about six weeks beforehand. That's when you realize that maybe you shouldn't have scheduled a fundraiser you're spearheading that close to D-Day, and innumerable real-life crises rear their ugly heads (never fails).

It's when you tell yourself, "Hey, this is life. Put on your big girl pants and deal with it." Only that doesn't keep the clock from ticking or that danged deadline from looming like Fraggle Rock (wait, that's a kid's show, right? Not very scary, huh?).

When I realized I had, oh, five chapters left last weekend, I went into panic mode, staying up way past my usual bed-time, working like a maniac (and, no, I don't drink coffee!). It helps when hubby has a late night hockey game and doesn't return until after midnight so I can write until he gets home and finds me with my face on the keyboard, QWERTY squished into my forehead. (All right, it never happened, but it was a constant threat.)

Ed has gotten used to seeing me in my pajamas 24/7, often with my hair sticking out like a rat's nest. I would mumble inanely, "I swear, I'll shower after dinner," and then I'd disappear into my writing room and not emerge until 11 p.m., still a mess. But I would have gotten another chapter done.

If all goes well, by the time you read this deadline-itis inspired babble, I'll be hitting "send" and turning in Little Black Dress to my agents and my editor at HarperCollins.

At which point, I plan to sleep for days, watch mindless HGTV, read the books stacked on my bedside table, eat chocolate, and pray that they don't come back and say, "Er, Susan, that thing you sent us? It's a pile of poo." (Has anyone ever had that happen, God forbid?) And soon enough, I'll have to do revisions, turn in a proposal for the next book, and get back to writing again. No rest for the wicked, eh?
With two books due in 2011, I should really take a spin in the nearest phone booth (er, if I can find one) and emerge in my super-powered, superhero suit, consisting of plaid flannel jammie pants, the "rock star" T-shirt Maggie gave me, fuzzy socks, and rat's nest hair. "Ah-ha-ha," I'll say in my throaty--um, squeaky--voice, "I am Deadline Girl! Look out!"

Or else I'll just take a nap.

Little Black Dress has been bumped up in the schedule and will now be out in June from HarperCollins instead of next fall (or, actually, May 17, 2011 if we're being particular). You can already pre-order it online, which is kind of funny as of this moment, since I just finished writing it. Toodles and TGIF!!! --Susan

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rejuvenated and Motivated, by Misa

Last weekend was the annual NTRWA weekend retreat and what a blast it was! We all met in the historic town of Glen Rose, Texas, home of the biggest dinosaur footprints in the world.

Members of the North Texas RWA Chapter...

Happy Tales to You -_-

Which way to ReJuVeNaTiOn?

We stayed at Country Woods Inn, a fantastically quaint bed and breakfast right along the river and steps from the river walk...

We dined at...


We walked...

We wrote, laughed, bonded, ate some more (junk food junkie weekend, baby!)...

We drank vino and diet sodas...

We brainstormed...

We ate cowboy hat cake...

We met Santa Fe Joe...

We hung out in the Chapel by the Woods...

...and had an all-around inspiring time.

I came away with a brand new cozy mystery series proposal which I L.O.V.E. What a way to charge into the holiday season. I feel rejuvenated and motivated.

When was the last time you went on a weekend getaway, and did it recharge your battery?


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Power of Civil Discourse

Much of the time I am supposed to be working, I'm surfing the Net for interesting story ideas, shopping, or just wasting time. During yesterday's surf, I found this link on a web site and was so struck by this young's man poise, as well as his bravery, that I had to post it here. I hope you are as impressed by how eloquently this 14-year-old young man states his case, in which he defends the actions of a suspended teacher who disciplined an anti-gay student. I think people on "both sides of the aisle" could learn a thing or two about civil discourse and its power to persuade.

(Between posting this blog and today, YouTube removed the video over a copyright issue.) Here's a link to Gawker where you can view the video, http://tv.gawker.com/5689407/openly-gay-student-defends-teacher-at-school-board-meeting
Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Didn't Happen This Week

I had a post all written for today and it said I was on a mystery cruise--actually the name for it was A Cruise to Die For. There were 40 of us signed up for it, a cruise to the Mexican Riveria. The plan was the 3 days we were at sea we were having a mystery conference.

Sunny Frazier, the brains behind it all, had collected all sorts of promo items including books for the tote bags. Assignments were given out as to who was to be on what panel. Moderators contacted panelists and had given them questions that would be asked. Many of us printed handouts.

I was all packed and read to go when the news came that the Carnival Cruise ship called the Splendor had a fire in its engine room.

Surely it would be fixed by the time we were supposed to go on our cruise. Wrong.

Our cruise was cancelled. We got the news from our tour director, from the cruise line itself and from Sunny. Of course I was disappointed as was everyone else. We will have our money refunded and 25% off the cost of our next cruise.

The more I heard about the ship and the condition it was in and what the 400 plus people stranded aboard the Splendor were going through, all I could feel was thankfulness. So thankful that we weren't the ones on that ship.

Sunny says we'll try again next year, same time.

In the meantime, hubby and I are now in Las Vegas visiting my sister and her husband. We're having a great time. No we're not going to shows and gambling, we never do that when we go to Vegas, but we are having fun visiting, eating out, and taking in a couple of movies.

Marilyn, who is making lemonade out of lemons.


Monday, November 15, 2010

It's All About the Writing?

For the past several days I've been thinking about this blog. I wanted to write about why I love Tom Selleck's Jesse Stone movies, but don't have the same feelings about his Blue Bloods television series.

Is it the same thing when the books are great and the television series is much less so? I love Kathy Reichs' Bones novels, but am disappointed with the Bones television series. Why? The TV show is fine, better than most of the dramas that are currently airing. Okay actually I don't have to wonder long about the Bones issue. The characters from the books are unrecognizable in the television series. So back to Tom Selleck -

(A friend suggested I just put up a couple dozen photographs of him and be done with this post. But as great as Tom Selleck looks, it's not the major draw for me. For instance, I never paid much attention to him when he was doing the Magnum P.I. television series or some of his earlier movies. So, no, Cathy, mere photographs won't suffice.)


1. Tom Selleck is just phoning it in for his Blue Bloods role? Probably not.

2. The Jesse Stone movies are twice as long as the television episodes. There's more time to set up the plot and tell the story. As a result they are better than the TV episodes? Maybe.

3. Familiarity breeds contempt? Ice cream three times a year tastes better than ice cream you get once a week for 22 weeks? It's possible. When I see the next Jesse Stone movie, I'll let you know if the weekly dose of Tom Selleck has made me immune to the movies.

4. More screen time for Selleck in the Jesse Stone movies? Both are ensemble pieces but clearly Tom Selleck is the star and the protagonist in the Jesse Stone movies. In Blue Bloods he's just the headlining star. His two TV sons are the major protagonists. So, I only like Tom Selleck when he's in a lead role? That's a possibility, but I don't think that's it.

5. Or maybe it's not Selleck at all. Maybe it's the writing: the plots, the characters, the solving of the mystery. We'll find out soon enough. The Jesse Stone movies were based on novels written by the late Robert B. Parker. The acclaimed writer died in January of 2010 and any future Jesse Stone movies won't have his books to rely on or his input. But if I were a betting woman, I'd put my money on the better writing of the Jesse Stone movies because, for me, it's always about the writing.

What do you think? Do you like the Jesse Stone movies? What do you think about Blue Bloods? Why?

And does anyone know when the next Jesse Stone movie is set to air?

Evelyn David


Note to Santa: The complete set of the Jesse Stone movies are available on DVD. I saw them at Amazon while I was drooling over the Kindle e-readers.

Note to Readers: To celebrate the publication of the Wolfmont edition of Murder Takes the Cake, we're having a drawing each Friday for an autographed copy of Murder Off the Books or Murder Takes the Cake (winner's choice). To enter drawing, leave a comment on our website - http://www.evelyndavid.com/

The Sullivan Investigation Series
Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)
Murder Takes the Cake - Paperback - Kindle
Murder Off the Books - Paperback - Kindle
Riley Come Home - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, November 12, 2010

The E-book Revolution

By C.J. West

Last month I moderated the e-books panel at Bouchercon in San Francisco. The Gang asked me to stop in and share my reflections and I’m delighted to visit.

It became clear during my research that e-books address the most serious problems facing the publishing industry. Returns? Check. Shelf life? Check. Selection? Check. The big surprise came when I downloaded work from each of the panelists. I expected the books to come quickly, but I didn’t expect to enjoy reading on an electronic device. I staunchly supported paper books until I tried an e-reader. Now I’m a convert. I bought my Kindle at Target yesterday.

The question in my mind after this panel is not so much whether there will be a revolution, because it is coming. The question is: what kind of a revolution will it be?

Are e-books an economic revolution?

The economic arguments for e-books are strong. The marginal cost (what it costs to produce one more book) are miniscule compared to print books and the implications for distribution are many. Consider a third-world school in need of textbooks. If the publisher can cut cost 95% by switching from hardcover to e-book format, they can afford to be generous with donations. In fact, it may be cost effective to donate the e-readers and e-books rather than offer hardcovers for multiple subjects.

There is another swirl in the economic wind. Authors earn 70% royalties on e-books distributed directly through Amazon. Because authors get most of the purchase price, many more authors will earn a comfortable living when the e-book market matures. That means no day job and more time to create.

Is this a class revolt?

E-book only authors tend to be younger and more hip than their Dead Tree Book (DTB) counterparts, but they aren’t the only beneficiaries of the revolution. I went to Barnes & Noble to shop for the authors on my panel. Of the seven authors, the store carried books for only one. It is even less likely you’d find our books in a supermarket or a Walmart, but the playing field for e-books is conspicuously level. All seven of us have e-books available for download and this erodes the advantages of the mega bestselling authors. I predict that midlisters who embrace e-books and go independent will be among the biggest winners in this revolution.

E-books are also a proving ground for new talent. One of the panelists, Boyd Morrison, published The Ark on Kindle after being rejected by 25 traditional publishers. The Ark sold so well on Kindle that Boyd signed with Simon & Schuster. The Ark has received excellent placement and has been translated into several languages. Boyd’s success will encourage new writers to follow his path and publishers to scour e-books for the next Boyd Morrison.

Are e-books a creative revolution?

I’ve heard Tim Hallinan call e-books a creative revolution and I’m a believer. The simplicity and low cost of e-book distribution allow authors to publish books they want to write. This applies to new authors breaking into the market and established authors who want to try a new genre or a story publishers don’t find commercially viable.

This discussion sparked a firestorm during our panel. One author blanched when his sale of e-books on Amazon was called self-publishing. The term self-publishing ignites heated debate over the quality of the work and who has the right to bring books to market. Whatever your opinion on gatekeepers, the digital levy has been breached and the tsunami of electronic titles is out there waiting for you to dive in.

How do you view the revolution?

Have you used an e-reader? If not, what’s stopping you?

Footnote: After this post was written, two important pieces of e-book news were reported. PW reported e-book sales spiked 150% in September as compared to a 40% decline in hardcover sales. The NY Times also reported that it will begin a bestseller list for e-books in January. If you're an author not involved with e-books yet, here is your wake-up call.


CJ West is the author of 5 thrillers. His latest, The End of Marking Time has been called “a modern 1984 meets Prison Break.” CJ interviews thriller authors monthly on Blog Talk Radio. His first novel, Sin & Vengeance is in development for feature film by Beantown Productions, LLC. (http://www.sinandvengeance.com/)

The End of Marking Time on Amazon Kindle

Sin & Vengeance on Amazon Kindle

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Writer in Paris

As a writer living in Paris, I’m often asked if I meet with other authors. After all, the city is famous for its salons and literary connections. When people think of Paris, they often think of writers seeking inspiration, languorous lunches and watching the world go by in cafés. Once a week, a writer friend and I visit over coffee then work on our own projects in a cozy cafe.

“But do you meet with lots of other writers like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald used to?” people ask.

Sadly, no. Although a few writers and I meet to have lunch once or twice a year, we’re all busy with work and family, plotting out our next novels and promoting our currents ones. We’re also scattered all over the city and over the globe. As I wait in line at the grocery store or post office and spend too much time filling out never-ending French paperwork, I feel a little jealous of the Lost Generation, known for their salons and discussion about writing. Then friend and fellow expat writer Ann Mah, author of Kitchen Chinese, reminded me that there is a place where writers meet – the Internet.

Writers have created their own havens online. From the Stiletto Gang to What Women Write to Writer Unboxed, writers gather to share and to read each other’s work. Bestselling authors such as Jennifer Weiner and Harlan Coben exchange messages with friends and fans on Twitter. Through email, authors are able to collaborate on projects. Isn’t it amazing that the writing duo that makes up Evelyn David have never met in person? They didn’t even speak on the phone until they finished their first draft.

Ann was right. I began to look at the Internet the same way my main character did – with awe and appreciation. In my novel, Moonlight in Odessa, Daria lives in Ukraine. The Iron Curtain has come down and she longs to connect to the outside world through the Internet. She has a computer at work, but her boss finds a way to cut her cord to the outside world. Finally, she reaches her goal:

“I finally got the Internet! The technician showed me how to fly from page to page and to navigate the sites. I could see why the Internet started with a capital letter, like a country or a city. It was a whole new galaxy, like the Milky Way. I could read the BBC news, see the latest fashions in Paris, and read Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry. I could search for a new job on Western employment sites. I could plan my escape.”

Sometimes we need a reminder of how lucky we are. My character Daria reminded me it’s important to not take things for granted. Ann reminded me that although we can’t always meet physically, we are able to connect. I have interviewed several authors via email and shared their stories on my blog. Through my website, readers have sent lovely emails about Moonlight in Odessa. Twitter feels like my own personal newspaper. I love reading the blogs of agents and other authors to see what they are passionate about. Several bloggers have kindly done author interviews and reviewed my book. As book sections of newspapers get smaller and smaller, the Internet allows more and more writers to be heard.

The Internet is where it is at, a reunion café open 24/7 where all are welcome.

Many thanks to the writers and the Stiletto Gang for inviting me to share my thoughts!

Janet Skeslien Charles


Buy Moonlight in Odessa at Amazon!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Pre-Veterans' Day Reflection

Almost seventeen years ago, I was a young mother who had a newborn during one of the worst winters the Northeast had ever weathered (no pun intended). This meant that my maternity leave—yes, the one that was three months long and seemed like it would be an eternity before I had taken it but what was really the blink of an eye—was spent shoveling snow, breastfeeding, shoveling more snow, and gazing longingly out the window to see if I could venture out with an eight-pound baby strapped to my chest. My house isn’t that big so walking the floors—her favorite activity—took all of about six minutes, even if I did it ten times in a row. Outside was the way to go, but with the sidewalks slick and icy, there was no way I was going to make the trek down the steep stairs in front of my house with a baby wailing in a sling across my gigantic bosom. It was just too dangerous and with my predisposition to klutziness, a recipe for disaster.

One day, the weather broke. It was early March and the snow was now almost gone, the streets wet but not slippery. I stuffed the baby into the front-facing pack and headed out into the cold, whereupon I came across another young mom and a tiny toddler—about eighteen months old—walking up the street, apparently as happy as I was to be out and about after a winter trapped indoors. The mom looked familiar but we didn’t know each other; we came to find out that one house separated us and we both had small kids. The toddler had a cloud of white curly hair not unlike cotton candy blowing around in the breeze, his hands protected by mittens, his parka pulled up around his ears. His name was Spencer and he was the younger of her two children and possibly the cutest child I had ever seen.

Spencer and his family were our neighbors up until five years ago when the opportunity to purchase a house on the side of a hill with a meadow in the back presented itself. We stayed in touch as you do when you aren’t neighbors anymore—a quick hello in the grocery store, or a wave as you pass on the street, everyone racing to their next destination or carpool pick up. “We really need to get together!” we would say and we would mean, but it happened only rarely. In the past five years, I was also dealing with a cancer diagnosis and had kind of holed up in the house, so the opportunity to see our friends dwindled as I struggled with treatment and its attendant difficulties. All of us worked full time and had kids to raise. Spencer and his brother made it a point to come to a prayer service on my behalf, though, and Spencer visited every Halloween without fail. We looked forward to his visits; he was now a rangy teenager with a penchant for anime and a creative streak. He would come for candy and to touch base, telling us how much he missed the old neighborhood and his friends here. We never considered Halloween to be officially over until Spencer came in whatever getup he had come up with and got his requisite Three Musketeers bar. Once he had come and gotten his candy, we would shut off the porch light and go to bed, another Halloween now in the past.

This past summer, I got a call from Spencer’s mom: he was turning eighteen; would we come to his birthday party? We were delighted by the invitation but found it a little strange that an eighteen year old would want a birthday party replete with old fogies like me and my husband. We found out when we arrived that it was a surprise and the reason for the party was fraught with emotion. The next day, on the day Spencer would actually turn eighteen, he was enlisting in the Marines.

Spencer and his family were profoundly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Spencer, it would seem, had been so affected that he wanted to join the Marines and fight for our country. His parents were ambivalent, to say the least, but trying to support their son. The party was to be a celebration of his life and his ambition; we all had a blast, eating lobster tails and steak and drinking delicious wine and celebrating this young man with an incredible goal.

I focused on how much fun the party was and tried not to think about this tow-headed young man heading off to Parris Island in March. I have kept my emotions pretty much at bay since August, even when I thought about the party and what it meant. However, when I heard the doorbell ring at 9:30 p.m. last Sunday night—Halloween night—and heard the kids race down the stairs shouting “It’s Spencer!” I declined to come out of my bedroom. I couldn’t face the thought of seeing Spencer for the last time on Halloween night, here to collect his Three Musketeers bar and to say hello to us as he has every year since he was two years old. He was dressed as a woman, and a pretty convincing one at that, according to Jim and the kids. He was going to dinner with some friends but told them that before they got to their destination, he had to stop at our house to say hello and get his candy. It was tradition. Next year, he’ll be somewhere else and we’ll have to find another way to figure out when to shut off the porch light.

The next day, I sat at my computer working, like I do every day. The phone rang and it was a friend asking how our Halloween was. She wasn’t expecting me to burst into tears but when I explained why I was crying, she understood. She said that every time she sees a list of names, bios, or photographs in the paper of young men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, she stops and reads them, offering a silent prayer. She knows that they are someone’s child, someone’s grandchild, a brother, a sister, a husband, or a wife. They deserve to be remembered and to be celebrated for their commitment to something bigger or greater than many of us will ever know. They deserve to be counted.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think the little blonde toddler in the parka would grow up to be a Marine. There’s not much more to say on the topic except that our friend, Spencer, will be in our daily thoughts and prayers while he serves his country proudly. But most of all, we want him to know that we look forward to the day when we can give him a Three Musketeers bar on a Halloween night not too far into the future.

Maggie Barbieri

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dr. Eric Hickey Visits SJ Sisters in Crime

I belong to the San Joaquin Chapter of Sisters in Crime which meets in Fresno. In fact, I am one of the founding members of this chapter.

Over the years we've had police officer, police detectives, the county coroner, private detectives, CSI folks, fire investigators, and of course lots and lots of authors. One of our favorite speakers though is Dr. Eric Hickey.

Here's his bio:

Cell 559-676-0711
Office: 559-253-2226
Fax: 559-253-2267
Dr. Eric W. Hickey

Dr. Hickey is the Director of the Center for Forensic Studies at Alliant International University. He also teaches criminal psychology at California State University, Fresno, CA. Dr. Hickey has taught many courses in criminal personalities, sex crimes, homicide and psychopathology in universities, colleges, jails and prisons and supervises theses and dissertations involving forensic and criminal psychology. Dr. Hickey has considerable field experience working with the criminally insane, psychopaths, sex offenders and other habitual criminals. He has also served as an adjunct instructor for the American Prosecutor's Research Institute at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, South Carolina profiling stalkers, cyber-stalkers, criminal personalities and sexual predators.

He publishes books, articles and lectures extensively on the etiology of violence and serial crime. His book, Serial Murderers and Their Victims, 4th ed., Thomson/Wadsworth Publishers, is used as a teaching tool in universities and by law enforcement in studying the nature of violence, criminal personalities and victim-offender relationships. Another of his books, The Encyclopedia of Murder and Violent Crime, Sage Publishers, explores the phenomenon of murder and violence through the eyes of some of the world’s most noted experts. In 2006 he published Sex Crimes and Paraphilia (Prentice-Hall Publishers), a comprehensive examination of sexual perversions, sex offending and sexual predators. His latest coauthored book, The Myth of a Psychiatric Crime Wave, (Carolina Academic Press) examines the misperceptions and reality of the mentally ill and mentally disordered as criminals. He is currently writing another text examining criminal minds and criminal personalities. He is also writing his first novel, In Sane, a disturbing journey into the minds of psychotics, psychopaths and the criminally insane. Dr. Hickey is co-founder of Gambaru Productions and is developing a new television series, Predators, to assist crime survivors (See predators.tv).

His expertise is regularly sought by the media including appearances on CNN, Catherine Crier Live, NPR, Larry King Live, 20/20, A&E Biography, Good Morning America, Court TV, Discovery and TLC. He consults with private agencies and testifies as an expert witness in both criminal and civil cases. A former consultant to the FBI's UNABOM Task Force, Dr. Hickey currently assists local, state, and federal law enforcement in training and investigations. This includes assisting Peace Officer Service Training (POST) in developing course material and job aids for investigators. He also conducts seminars for agencies involving the profiling and investigating of sex crimes, arson, robbery, homicide, stalking, workplace violence and terrorism as well as workshops for mental health practitioners. Internationally recognized for his research on multiple homicide offenders, Dr. Hickey has conducted seminars in several countries including Canada, England, France, and Japan. He has also trained VIP protection specialists in Israel in profiling stalkers. His research involving hundreds of victims of stalking examines the psychology and classification of stalkers, victim-offender relationships, intervention, and threat assessment.

He's spoken to us about nearly all of the above topics and this time he focused on serial killers complete with photos and in some cases the killer and photos of their victims (when they were alive in most cases.)

He's absolutely fascinating and such a gentle man, it's hard to believe that he dwells on such sordid subjects and teaches about them. I was so glad I got to hear him speak again.

Getting there was an adventure in itself. I knew how to get to the college where he was speaking, but the woman who rode with me said she knew a better way--so I followed her directions. As we got farther and farther into Fresno I began to recognize neighborhoods that were in the opposite direction from where we should be driving. I pulled over and whipped out my handy Magellan, programmed it for the address of our destination. It took us to a quicker way to get to where we needed to be--we'd gone about 9 miles the wrong direction. Sure glad my own inner Magellan was alerting me that we were not on the right track.

It was all worth it, Dr. Hickey is a fascinating speaker.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Resolved: We Can Disagree without being Disagreeable

The election is over. Thank Goodness.

I think what bothered me the most about this election, and in truth, election cycles over the last ten years, is what it does to me and my own behavior towards those with whom I disagree politically.

I don't think there is much dispute, from either side, that there is a genuine lack of civility in politics today. Who's to blame for this conduct is undoubtedly in the eye of the beholder. But it's become the norm to vilify opponents rather than simply oppose their views. Gandhi implored us to "hate the sin, love the sinner." But that concept has no place, apparently, in today's political sphere.

All of which wouldn't bother me nearly as much except for how it makes me behave. I find myself cheering when a self-righteous, holier-than-thou candidate is tripped up by his own newly-discovered failings. Take for example, Gary Condit. He was a Congressman, at the center of the tragic Chandra Levy case. He was eventually exonerated of any complicity in her death, but it was hard to feel much sympathy for the man. While serving in office, he never missed an opportunity to excoriate Bill Clinton, yet conducted an affair with an intern young enough to be his daughter. Aha, I thought. Karma has bitten him in his self-righteous ass. Should I be that happy at someone's else's moral failings?

But politics today has become a zero-sum game. The only way I win is if you lose – and lose spectacularly. And maybe I even get to rub your nose in it. Nyah, Nyah, Nyah. There is no room for the moderate, no place at the table for men like Henry Clay, "the great compromiser." Nancy Reagan's slogan of "Just Say No," has been co-opted to "Just Vote No," by the opposition, regardless of the merits of any particular bill. And like sheep following Bo-Peep, too many of our elected officials follow their chosen leaders right over the cliff.

The 112th Congress will take office on January 3, 2011. It can be a fresh start. Civility can -- must -- return to those hallowed halls, even while spirited debate is encouraged. And I need to practice what I preach -- so would any Tea Party members like to come to tea?

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David

The Sullivan Investigation Series

Murder Drops the Ball (Spring 2011)

Murder Takes the Cake -
Paperback - Kindle

Murder Off the Books -
Paperback - Kindle

Riley Come Home -
Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series

The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah
- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries

- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Write Stuff

We're excited to have Brittany Roshelle with us at The Stiletto Gang today! Brittany is a freelance writer and an aspiring author of young adult fiction. Her blog, The Write Stuff, is where writers, authors, and book lovers converge to learn insider tips into the publishing world, read exclusive author interviews, and win book giveaways. Previously, she was a journalist for The Examiner as the Columbus Relationship Advice Expert. Currently, she writes for the online women’s magazine, Betty Confidential, as a Betty Fan Blogger. She recently completed her first novel and is actively pursuing agents.

Stiletto Gang: How long have you been writing?

Brittany: My father actually paid me a dollar per story when I was a little girl. He loved that I loved to write. As I grew older, I would journal every day, so much so that I often filled up a new journal every week. Since I loved to read often, I bought a new book every week as well. All of this led my father to lament that he should have bought stock in Barnes & Noble had he known what was ahead for him and his wallet.

Stiletto Gang: Where did you get the idea for your blog?

Brittany: I think a lot of people talk about writing a book, but that’s just it. It’s talk. The reason I held back from writing is that I come from a family of scientists and mathematicians. The idea that I might pursue a field that doesn’t require an advanced degree seemed laughable. And while books are everywhere, how one gets published is a big secret to most people.

I created my blog, The Write Stuff, with the goal in mind that I would contact as many authors as I could and publish their stories, their tips to publishing. Not only did I want to give any writers out there the help they needed, but I wanted to show everyone who was skeptical that getting published is possible.

Each week I interview someone new, whether it’s a New York Times bestselling author or someone with their first novel. I ask about their story, chat about their new book, and host a contest. It’s the ultimate place to learn insider tips to the publishing world and the best place to find inspiration, especially if you’re an author-in-the-making.

Stiletto Gang: What's something important you've learned along the way?

Brittany: There’s no one road to publishing. Every author has a unique story. For some it took seven novels before they made it. Others got an agent three weeks after they sent out their first query letter. What is the same, though, is that everyone persevered. They’re authors today because they never gave up the dream. They kept writing, revising, and trying to get published. While publishing a book takes time, you can either be your own best friend or your biggest roadblock.

For example: What do Dr. Suess, John Grisham, and J.K. Rowling all have in common? They’re authors who were rejected multiple times by publishers. Can you imagine what would have happened if they had said, “Enough’s enough,” and gave up? While no one can say if your writing will ever make you that famous, who's to say it won't? You just have to hang in there.

Stiletto Gang: You also have another blog for Betty Confidential. Tell us about that.

Brittany: Yes! I have a Betty Blog called Chocolate Covered Chick Thoughts. Each week, the Betty fan bloggers and I are asked a question by Betty often relating to the most recent celebrity scandal, and it’s our job to spill on our real life relationships. Each Friday the top blogs are featured on their main website. So far, my articles have appeared every Friday.

I have the best time writing my articles. I try to throw in as much humor and advice as possible without being too serious or personal. I absolutely love it.

Stiletto Gang: You recently finished your first novel. What was that like?

Brittany: My biggest dream for as long as I can remember was to write a full-length novel. That dream has finally been realized. It feels so wonderful and gratifying…I really cannot explain it! But it’s important for me to keep in mind that my job is not over yet. The road to publication can be broken into two basic steps: writing the best novel you can write and getting it published. Right now, I’m teetering on the edge of phase two in the process. I can clearly see that writing my novel was the more enjoyable part. Spending all day inside my characters' heads was fun, insightful, and heart-warming. Now that I’ve finished the manuscript, the business side of it all starts. The next step is to send out my query letter.

Stiletto Gang: What has the querying process been like for you?

Brittany: Reducing your book into 250-350 words is incredibly difficult. By far harder than writing the actual book. That being said, it’s all part of the process and I'm eager to learn as much as I can. Creating a killer query letter is at the top of my list; and, after working on it for a few weeks, I think I’m close to it.

Stiletto Gang: What’s the title and the genre of the manuscript you're currently pitching?

Brittany: The Popular Girls, and it's a contemporary YA novel. It’s an edgy tale of a young girl and her quest to find her self-worth in our fast-paced society.

Stiletto Gang: Do you think your blog has helped you finish your book?

Brittany: Absolutely! Writers have to get out there and connect with other writers. They need to do their research. Part of that is paying attention to how other authors have navigated their way through the publishing industry. More importantly, having my blog has been a way to meet new, wonderful people, and it's a daily exercise in writing for me. You’ve got to keep those writing muscles strong and healthy.

Stiletto Gang: What’s the hardest part about writing?

Brittany: For me, it’s the end. Through the process of writing a novel, you grow very attached to your characters. I don’t like having to let that go and end it!

Stiletto Gang: Do you have any writing rituals, or something you keep on your desk everyday while you work?

Brittany: An iced white mocha latte. Often times I use it as my reward after hitting my word count. Besides that, I just need a clean workspace and a silent cell phone…and did I mention chocolate?

Stiletto Gang: Brittany, thanks so much for coming by today and sharing your story! We'll definitely be checking out The Write Stuff and all your author interviews and contests. And good luck with your book (fingers crossed).