Merry Christmas from the Craig Household

christmas homeCongratulations . . . The winner from last week’s blog with Will Graham is : bn100.  Please email me at christie (at) christie-craig.com with your snail mail address so I can arrange for you to get your prize.  Will has even graciously offered to include an autographed ARC of his book, Sometimes, There Really are Monsters Under the Bed.

Now, I want you to imagine standing on my doorstep.  You almost hate to come inside because the wreath hanging on the door is a work of art.  The lights twinkling in the bushes and on the house are magical.  Ahh, but one step into my entryway and you are more than willing to leave that magic behind.

The air inside is scented with freshly baked gingerbread cookies, all iced and hand decorated.  I took hours doing this, you know.  With your second breath you pick up a hint of hot apple cider that is sitting on the stove, with Christmas mugs right next to it, ready to be filled and tucked inside your cold palms.

In my living room you are awestruck by the roaring fire flicking and adding warmth to the home.  A huge, perfectly shaped Christmas tree twinkles in the corner of my living room.  Amazingly decorated, it holds a mix of coordinating, hand-painted ornaments.

Imagine all the presents under the tree: beautiful bows and matching paper.  Each one such a work of art that unwrapping them is a crime.  On the mantel are the stockings, hung with care, between the fresh garland that appears as if a professional decorator took hours getting it just right.

On a table beside the mantel is a Christmas village all lit up, complete with tiny houses, store fronts and a little train that rides around and around.  From the living room, you can spot the kitchen table which holds the beautifully carved turkey and some fancy hors d’oeuvre with caviar.

Welcome to my home.

Welcome to my fantasy.  Yeah, it’s all fiction.

Now, let me tell you what it’s really like.  There are no Christmas lights outside.  Hubby tried that one year and the neighbors laughed their asses off.  How was he to know you didn’t just throw the lights in the bushes and turn them on?  The wreath.  I had one, made of pecans, and it was pretty. But squirrels got to it in the attic a few years back and ate the pretty off of it.  I’ve been too busy to go out and buy another one.  I always seem to have a book deadline right at Christmas.  And I love a good fire in the fireplace, but since hubby forgot to open up the vents that one Christmas and filled the house with smoke, I hesitate to ask again.   But if it stays this cold, I might chance it.

I bake cookies.  But they are chocolate chip, not decorated, and at least one batch of them are always burnt because I get caught up with coming up with clues for the gifts I’m giving.  Yes, we write clues on all our gifts and the person can’t open it until they try to figure out what’s in it.  We all try to outdo the others with our clues.  And then I usually burn another batch of cookies when I try to wrap those gifts.  I am seriously wrapping impaired.  I gave up on ribbons for the same reason I gave up on Christmas tree tinsel: because the cats eat the stuff and then run around with shiny things hanging out their back ends.

Now I always go with a real tree—I do love how it makes my house smell.  Back when I allowed my hubby to go pick out the tree, it wasn’t just misshaped, it was downright ugly.  I swear, he would find the ugliest tree because he knew it would never find a home.  However, my son, who now works at a nursery, brings us home a nice tree every year.  So the tree’s pretty.  For about a day.

charlie brownYou see, my four cats think the Christmas tree is their seasonal play toy.  They climb it, swing from the garland, knock off my ornaments, break a few, and chew the heads off a few reindeer.   The only hand-painted ornaments on the tree are those my son made.  And I laugh every year when I hang them.  Let’s just say, art wasn’t his thing.  I wouldn’t take a million dollars for them, though.  Nevertheless, by Christmas, my tree always looks rode hard and put up wet.

There is no Christmas village, several years back, our late dog ate it, and the vet bill was so expensive we decided we were non-village people.  There are no fancy hors d’oeuvres.  Sorry, no caviar.  Not only would the cats go crazy, but somebody would have to pay me large to eat fish eggs. You get carrots sticks and ranch and sometimes guacamole and chips.  (Hey, we’re in Texas.)  But don’t worry, the wine is the good stuff and dinner will be tasty.   I said tasty, not perfectly carved.  Hey, it’s the taste that’s important, right?  We actually fight over who has to do the carving honor every year.  And we promise never to laugh at how mutilated the bird looks when the carving knife is put away.

But not laughing is a promise we seldom keep. Because you see, what you do find at the Craig house is a lot of laughter.   A house filled with family, friends, and too many pets.  And like last year, I’m sure the cats will be busy batting the ornaments around that they snatched off the tired looking tree.  Our dog, and this year my son’s puppy, will sit at our feet waiting for someone to “accidentally drop” a piece of poorly carved turkey.  And we all pray they don’t pass anything while they are under there.

We’re not fancy, we don’t throw a Norman Rockwell Christmas—though I fantasize about it.  However, the truth is we don’t need to do perfect.  We do laughter.  We do family.  And that’s pretty darn perfect.  Oh, and that’s what I wish for all of you.   A holiday filled with laughter and family.

Happy Holidays.

christmas trees

 

Love is Murder

WINNERS!  The winners of last week’s blog with Jan Hudson are: Chris Campillo, moojuice, and Julie Kenner. Please email me at: christie (at) christie-craig (dot) com and let me know if you’d like your ebook via Amazon or B&N.  Congrats!

Today I’m really excited for a couple of reasons.  First, I get you introduce you to a super talented friend of mine who writes thrillers.  And secondly . . . he’s a man!  We don’t get nearly enough testosterone around this place, do we ladies?  (I hope I didn’t just scare him off! LOL!)

Please give a warm Laugh, Love, Read welcome to Will Graham!

So, Will, can you tell us three things you have in common with your hero?

Every writer uses a little bit of him/herself in their work.  If I have to name three, I’ll say Nicholas White and I share the same tastes in Music (The Rat Pack, Big Band, and 1960’s), Movies (anything and everything… we’re both kind of shameless in that regard, although his DVD collection takes up an entire room, while I have to struggle with only 3/4 of the room), and we are both very cognizant of the extreme difference between The Law and Justice.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers out there?

‘Words of Wisdom’?  I’m flattered to be asked that one!  All I can really say is it’s your story, tell it your way.  It is extremely easy to get caught up in “Well, Agent A said if I did this….” and “Editor B said I need to do that….” and “Writing Guru C told me I need to….”.  Trying to listen to everyone can cause some serious Writer’s Block, not everyone is always right, and your book can turn into a ‘written to specification’ work instead of the story you passionately created.  Believe in your work, stick to your guns, and tell your story your way.

How about your favorite scene from any of your books?

My favorite scene in SPIDER’S DANCE is the dinner scene between Nicholas and Michaela O’Brien at a fictional restaurant called “The Monster Mash”.  The place is done up with props and costumes from old horror movies (Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi kind of movies) and it’s just a fun scene for me.  One of the most flattering emails I received from a reader was the question, “Is ‘The Monster Mash’ a real place in Houston?'”  I replied unfortunately no, it was a product of my imagination, but I grinned over that email for a while.

Okay, if the Ten Commandments were really a list of eleven, what do you think the eleventh commandment should be?

The Eleventh Commandment should be “Thou Shalt Not Anger The Writer”.  We have long memories, active keyboards, and *very* vivid imaginations….:)

LOL!  Great one and I totally agree!  🙂

Now here’s a little bit about Will’s books and how you can find them:

“A remarkably entertaining story, due mainly to the protagonist’s sense of humor. There are laugh-out-loud moments throughout, and these do not take away from the mystery or suspense.  The most striking thing about [the] prose is the humor behind it; if you like your mysteries and thrillers filled with wit, look no further.  As a page-turner, SPIDER’S DANCE succeeds by weaving a web of an irresistible story.  As entertainment, it is pure pleasure.  Unique characters, an original hero (we don’t get that too often), and an up to the minute topical plot carries SPIDER’S DANCE to the bank!” – Raymond Benson, author of THE BLACK STILETTO series, six 007 continuation novels, the ‘Spike Berrenger Rock ‘n Roll Detective’ series, and others.If a person is known by the company she keeps, then the company of the 30 romance and suspense writers in this stellar all-original anthology speaks volumes about bestseller [Sandra] Brown…. There are familiar characters such as Allison Brennan’s Lucy Kincaid (“Vacation Interrupted”) and new ones readers are sure to want to see more of, like William Simon’s Nicholas White (“Spider’s Tango”). Chockablock with nifty plot twists, these stories aren’t to be missed. (June) – PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY review of THRILLER LOVE IS MURDER, 4/9/2012

LINKS:
Nicholas White appears is SPIDER’S DANCE:  http://tinyurl.com/spidersdancegraham
And in the short story ‘Spider’s Tango” in THRILLER 3: LOVE IS MURDER, edited by Sandra Brown:  http://tinyurl.com/thriller3lim
Now, you tell us what you think the Eleventh Commandment should be, and I’ll be choosing one lucky commenter to win the Love is Murder Anthology that Will is a part of, edited by the fantastic Sandra Brown.  You don’t want to miss your chance at this one!  And thanks so much for being here, Will!

 

Big and Bright

WINNERS!  The lucky winners of last week’s Remember When blog of the $25 gift cards are: Melissa King, Karen Kline, Catherine Lee, and Tricia Seamans. Please email me at christie (at) christie-craig (dot) com and let me know if you want that as an Amazon or B&N card.  Congratulations and Happy Holidays!

Today I have a special guest blogger.  Jan Hudson is long time friend and mentor of mine.  She’s fabulous, but before I turn it over to her and offer up a contest to give away three of her books, I have a little announcement to make.

Those of you who have met me know I’m just a small-town southern gal with a bad habit of making up crazy stuff.  Yeah, I write that stuff down, and it actually gets published.  But to have a Hollywood producer say… “I want to make a movie/TV series about the crazy stuff you make up is well…unfreaking-believable.  Seriously, it wasn’t even on my bucket list.

Ahh, but it happened.  Yup.  I’m totally over-the-moon excited to be able to announce that the film and television rights to my YA paranormal Shadow Falls series have been optioned by producer Steven J. Berger and Provenance Pictures to be developed as a television series. Incidentally, Berger just wrapped up production on the independent feature film The Pretty One starring Zoe Kazan.

Okay…now let me give it over to Jan.

***

Hello, everybody! And thanks, Christie, for having me on your blog today. I’ve known Christie for a long time, and I always enjoy hanging out with her and her friends.

I’ve been a very busy lady lately. I’ve been writing romances for a lot of years, and I’ve built up a nice backlist from six different publishers and I now have the rights reverted back to me–which means that I can self-publish them as ebooks (except for those series I’ve written for Silhouette Desire and Harlequin American). A big chunk of those reverted books were first written for Bantam Loveswept. Anybody remember those? I adored those books, and I’m mostly concentrating on those first. I’ve been updating and revising several of those as well as getting new covers for them and publishing them on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, and other venues like Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and various ebook sites. Some of the titles I’ve done so far are: Water Witch, Always Friday, The Right Moves, Sunny Says, and Hot Streak (in progress). You can check out my website  http://www.janhudson.com for more details.

The book I’d like to talk about today is Big and Bright, (Book 1 of the Berringer Brothers Trilogy). It’s just up on the Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords sites and should be on the other ebooks venues soon if it isn’t there already. It’s a humorous romance with just enough suspense to up the action and enough sizzle to keep things interesting. It’s set in Austin, Texas, and complete with plenty of 6th Street flavor. (Sixth Street in Austin is sorta like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.) The hero is another Texas Ranger (actually the first one I ever wrote about) and the next one up in this series is his twin brother. When I first came up with Holt, one of my critique partners said, “He’s too good to be just one.” So I gave him a twin. I’ve interviewed several real Texas Rangers over the years and have had 4 as heroes of books. None of the real guys were quite as hot as the ones I created. LOL

Every time I think of Big and Bright, I think fondly of Christina Dodd. We were in a brainstorming session together, and she came up with the idea of the heroine’s being in the middle of a home permanent when some of the events below occurred.

Here’s a sample . . .

Cory Bright planned to stay in Austin, Texas, just long enough to dispose of the perfumery she’d inherited before she headed to California and a big time ad agency job. With her hair in home perm rollers and a terrible craving for a Moon Pie, she made a quick dash for the store down the street. Who knew that so much could happen in five minutes? There was one Moon Pie left in the box; she and a tall hunk in a white hat reached for it at the same time–and she didn’t intend to let go…until a couple of robbers burst into the store and bullets started flying. And wouldn’t you know that she was the only person who got a good look at the bad guy who escaped? And wouldn’t you know that a reporter plastered her name and a gosh-awful photo on the front page of the paper for all the town–and the robber–to see? When nasty threats came from the robber/murderer, wouldn’t you know Texas Ranger Holt Berringer (the white-hatted hunk) was determined to appoint himself Cory’s protector? Not that she minded too much. He was, after all, a real hottie. But she hadn’t counted on the chemistry between them being potent enough to blow off the roof–and a big hole in her plans.

Please visit either KINDLE or NOOK to read a sample of the book to see if you’d like to read the rest.

BIG AND BRIGHT  on Kindle < http://amzn.com/B00AB4FW30>

Nook <“http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/big-and-bright-jan-hudson/1000425598?ean=2940015776614” >

***

That all sounds fantastic, Jan.  Now can I ask you some questions?

Name 3 things you’re envious of in your heroine.

I can think of several but my first thought is that she’s young, blond, and sexy. I can’t compete in the young and sexy categories any more, but I suppose I could bleach my hair–though it’s unlikely. I was a blond once for six weeks when I was in my twenties, and I loved it. Problem was my dark roots showed in three or four days, and I couldn’t touch them up because my scalp was full of sores. My mother, a natural blond, was furious with me for “ruining my beautiful hair” (how was I to know she thought my hair was beautiful?) and it took my hairdresser six weeks to find a product to cover my damaged two-toned mop without turning it green.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do to bring home the bacon?

I was a teacher before I was a writer, and I taught everything from second grade through college and graduate school students. I taught English, biology, and history in middle and high school and psychology at college levels. (The older they got, they better I liked it.) I also had training as a psychologist and hypnotist, so I have some choices to keep the wolf from the door. I always kind of fantasized about being an actress or a government agent. Actually all those occupations aren’t as divergent as they may seem. Think about it. And think about how writing is the perfect occupation for someone like me.

 If you were going to a deserted island and could only take five things, what would they be?

Wow! I watch “Survivor,” so this isn’t too far out a question. A friend once told me that in her emergency kit she wanted an eyebrow pencil and a bottle of good Scotch. I’d take neither of those. First, I’d take a satellite phone (to be rescued or just to chat). Then I would opt for a tent, a machette, and fishing gear. If there was a fresh water source, I wouldn’t have to worry about that; otherwise, I’d take desalination gear. If water wasn’t an issue, I’d have a hard time picking the fifth. Probably either a Bible, a box of butane lighters, a supply of dehydrated food, or several packages of Oreos.

Wow!  How prepared you are!  LOL.  Okay, everyone, now it’s your turn.  Give us one thing you’d take to your deserted island.  I know, I know, it’s not fair to limit you to one thing.  But I’m giving away a copy of Jan’s book, Big and Bright, to three lucky commenters who can think of that one thing!  Good luck!

***

A fifth generation Texan, Jan Hudson is the author of over thirty romance novels and has won numerous awards and accolades, including the Golden Heart and the coveted RITA Award by the Romance Writers of America. She writes the kind of fast-paced stories she loves to read: those laced with humor, fantasy, and adventure, with bold characters who reach beyond the mundane and celebrate life. Her most memorable adventure was riding a camel to the Sphinx and climbing into the sarcophagus in the King’s chamber of the Great Pyramid. Her favorite food is fudge–with pecans. And Chunky Monkey is the best ice cream in the world–except maybe for a lovely pistachio she once had in Greece. In her spare time she likes to think about exercising or cleaning closets.

As her alter-ego, Dr. Janece O. Hudson, she is a former licensed psychologist, college teacher, and hypnotist. She’s considered an expert in the field of dreams and has written a non-fiction book, “Into Your Dreams” about learning to interpret your unique dream symbols.

Remember When . . .

WINNERS!  The lucky winners from last weeks blog with the fantastic Diane Kelly are: Nancy Crocker, Jan, Quilt Lady, Alison B., Kathleen O., MaryAnn McElhron, Laura Poe, Sue Anderson, Jessica Kurvers, and Tricia Reid.  If you guys will email me at christie (at) christie-craig (dot) com with your preferred email addy and if you’d like your ebook via Amazon or B&N, I’ll get you your prizes.  Congrats!

Remember when . . . Looking back at my backlist

Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Seasons greetings!  Today, I’m giving away presents/prizes galore.  What am I giving away?  A chance to win one of four $25 gift cards to either Amazon or B&N!  Buy yourself a gift or use it to give something to someone else.   Now this contest is for my loyal fans.  And how am I going to know if you are a loyal fans, you ask?  Well, here’s how . . .

Below are nine scenes that took place in one of my books.  All you have to do is email me the name of the character and the title of the book for each scene.  Everyone who does will be entered to win the $25 gift cards.  If you don’t know all of them, no worries, send me the ones you do.  I’m not grading you, I’m simply rewarding my readers with a chance to win.  This contest will last for one full week and I will announce the winners on next week’s blog.  Make sure you check back to see if you’ve won because winners will only have three days to claim their prizes.

 Ready?  Here we go . . . 

1.  Remember when one of my secondary characters was in car wreck, fell out of the wrecked car into a thorn bush, rolled over into a bed of fire ants, and got skunked?

2.  Remember when my hero ate a cat-food sandwich?

3.  Remember when my heroine had a head-on collision with a casket?

4.  Remember when my heroine was caught jumping up and down on the hero’s bed naked by the hero and his two best friends?

5.  Remember when my heroine found a dead man in a porta-potty wearing a hat that read:  Shit happens and then you die?

6.  Remember when my heroine, a nervous puker, found her dead wedding planner then got locked in a room with a PI, who just happened to be a sympathetic puker?

7.  Remember when my heroine threatened to shoot someone with a tampon?

8.  Remember when my heroine found her low-life ex-husband, who she’d just threatened to kill, in the trunk of her car?

9.  Remember when my heroine was being haunted by her dead, chain-smoking mother?

Okay…remember to email the name the character and the title of the book of each scene to christie (at) christie-craig (dot) com.  Good luck and Happy Holidays to all of my fans who have helped me reach my dream of having a successful writing career!