Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Double Duty With C. Lee McKenzie


To celebrate C. Lee McKenzie's Double Negative blog tour, I asked her to tell us about her secret double life. Below is Lee's most captivating cover reveal yet.

I have seen double: after a launch, after too much wine, after editing a manuscript. Those are a few times I can vouch for double vision. And I have played doubles tennis. I used to play that every week before I started writing books. If there's a double scoop of ice cream it will be on a hot fudge sundae. Yum. Never dated twins. Have dated two, er, three boys at a time. Very complicating and too overlapping. Gave that up after one try. I'm just not devious enough to pull that kind of thing off.

I forgot to ask Lee if she ever doubles down at blackjack, but something tells me she would also be an excellent poker player. If anyone asks you didn't hear it from me, because I don't know nothing.


double-negative2
Double Negative, by C. Lee McKenzie.

Hutchison McQueen is a sixteen-year-old smart kid who screws up regularly. He’s a member of Larkston High’s loser clique, the boy who’s on his way to nowhere—unless juvenile hall counts as a destination. He squeaks through classes with his talent for eavesdropping and memorizing what he hears. When that doesn’t work, he goes to Fat Nyla, the one some mean girls are out to get and a person who’s in on his secret—he can barely read.

And then Maggie happens. For twenty-five years she’s saved boys from their own bad choices. But she may not have time to save Hutch. Alzheimer’s disease is steadily stealing her keen mind.

You can find out more at C. Lee McKenzie's websiteblog, or Facebook Fan Page. There's also a giveaway for Double Negative and for Amazon gift cards here.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Mom The Tantalizer

Could this be me?*

Recently, we were reunited with our cousins on my husband's side of the family. We hadn't seen some of the youngest cousins in a few years, and a cute little eight-year-old boy greeted me with a big hug. At first I was so excited that I immediately told his parents how sweet he was. It wasn't until later that it hit me. I was slowly turning into one of those old ladies that parents told their children to embrace at all costs, or else.

I phoned my mom immediately. Surely she would give me the loving support I needed. "Mom, did you ever get the feeling that you were getting obligatory hugs and kisses from friends and relatives of all ages?  Do men turn away to avoid eye contact while offering their cheeks for you to kiss, and do small children ever give you robotic hugs just to please their parents?"

My mom thought for a moment, and replied, "No." Then she told me how just the other day, two men in her "habitat" were fighting over her in the pool room. It got so bad that administrators had to take away their pool cues, so they were forced to play with empty paper towel rolls. These duels were becoming frequent occurrences, because of her "tantalizing green eyes."

A few days later. I drove my mom to the beauty shop. She gave the shampoo girl strict instructions before she started washing her hair. These instructions included: "I need cotton in both ears. don't mess up the make-up, and be sure not to get my eyebrows wet." Her weekly demands were being recited, as we were tying to hoist my mom up to the sink. Sometimes she uses her walker as a launch pad.

Several hours later when we were finally ready to leave, the shampoo girl gave my mom an unexpected warning. I thought for sure she was going to tell my mom off; instead, she said that she was going to kiss her. My mom politely tried to talk her out of it, but the spell was cast. She planted a big kiss on her cheek, as my mom just smiled at me, and shrugged her shoulders. Needless to say, we drove all the way home in complete silence.


*photo courtesy of blogs.voices.com


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Whoever Said That Brothers Don't Know Squat About Gift Giving?


Last weekend we had a small 4th of July gathering with family and friends. When my brother arrived, he quickly dropped something off in the guest bedroom behind the kitchen. Then he told me to look at it privately when I had a chance. At the time, I was busy scrambling all of the side dishes together, while my husband was manning the grill. I couldn't imagine what he had brought, but I thanked him as my mom was being carried through our garage landing like Cleopatra.

After dinner, we cleared off the table, and started putting everything away. We were trying to decide if anyone wanted to walk over to see the fireworks, when I noticed that a few of our guests were missing. I found my friend, and my mom's caregiver texting from across the kitchen table. At first, I was wondering if they were texting each other, "Can you believe that Julie doesn't know from good wine? Of course, I had to bring my own bottle to be polite."

Then I was wondering if they were texting for help, "I'm so bored. If you won't come pick me up, could you at least give me a creative excuse to leave?" Before I could snatch their phones, my brother asked if I had opened up his present.

I took a quick peek, and brought it into the the dining room for everyone to see. Never before had I heard so many oohs, and aahs. My brother had bought us a Squatty Potty for our anniversary.



The Squatty Potty slides easily under your toilet allowing you to squat like our ancestors did, so that you can "poop like a pro." Our dear friend immediately ran into our powder room to demonstrate the product for us, but since we have so few dear friends, this model will have to suffice.

This was just the icebreaker our party needed to really loosen things up. Flushed with excitement, we were on a roll. The next minute it was as if we were shooting our own Squatty Potty infomercial. One guest chimed in with how the Squatty Potty helped prevent hemorrhoids, while another said that she heard it got the job done toot sweet. Then my mom inquired, "Do you have to have the urge to go before you use it?"

A moment later we noticed that the Squatty Potty was missing. Then our smiling son returned with the portable step stool in tow. You could've heard a pin drop when he proudly announced, "It works."


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IWSG: Getting Two Legs Up On The Competition



Welcome to the July edition of Alex J. Cavanaugh's, Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit the other talented writers who offer words of encouragement, and endless support here.

As we're getting ready to celebrate the 4th of July, we can't help thinking of ways to create fireworks in our writing. We want our next book or project to go off like sky rockets, so that everyone will want to grab a copy to experience that feeling again and again.

The hard part is coming up with something completely original. As writers we seem to have more similarities than differences. We stare blankly at our keyboards, we're constantly trying to prove ourselves, and we come to life at strange hours. Sometimes all it takes is one scene to set us apart. It could be something so obvious that we slap ourselves for not seeing it sooner; a simple concept with a creative spin that sets the Internet on fire. This man jumped in with both feet.
                                                       
In case you have trouble accessing the video below, here is the direct link: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/man-dances-pants-body-article-1.1849382   





Remember that this man is a professional, so do not try this trick at home. It could leave you with a leg up in the emergency room, which wouldn't be fair to all of the kids in line who shot off fingers and toes with firecrackers. Happy 4th of July!


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

After We Invest: How Our Graduates Still Mess The Nest

                                                                 
illinois.edu

  Since our younger son moved back in with us after college graduation, I've noticed that some things haven't changed at all. Miraculously, he was able to get through finals, intern at both the high school and college levels, and still can't keep track of his cup. He goes through several different glasses a day, while scattering them around the kitchen and family room. Sometimes he'll even drink out of my husband's glass, if he mistakenly uses one from the same set. I try to use the same mismatched glass with an embedded lipstick stain to insure that no one will go near it. Yes, it's disgusting, but at least I know where it's been. After I was whining about my dishpan hands, one of my friends chimed in with another small skill that she wished her college graduate had mastered.

 When her son finally completed writing his thank you notes, she noticed that he had difficulty addressing the envelopes. Not only did he forget to leave room for the return address, but he wasn't even going to use stamps. It turns out that this isn't that unusual. Between texting and emailing everything from photos to resumes, many young people aren't used to actually mailing letters.

 This reminded me of when our older son was eleven-years-old, and went away to overnight camp. I made sure that he was equipped with plenty of stationary, so that he could write every detail of his first summer away from home. I remember how excited we were when his first letter came in the mail. I struggled to open it, as it was addressed upside down. Finally, I found a pre-stamped postcard inside the envelope detailing that the lake was too cold, and for swimming and water sports. The rest of the boys didn't seem to mind, as they were busy snapping towels at each other in the cabin. It took him two stamps to tell us what a terrible time he was having in less than three sentences.

 Another mom chimed in about how college life turned her relatively neat daughter, into a total slob. Clothes were thrown around everywhere, and junk was piled up so high that she continually lost track of her car keys. That sounded very familiar to me. Things were getting messier here by the minute, and the aromatic gym bags filled with everything from missing socks to half-eaten protein bars were starting to mysteriously pile up.

 Yes, it was time for a nice, calm talk. I don't know where he got this from, and my husband certainly wasn't willing to take any blame for it. As soon as I got dressed, we'd have ourselves one dandy of a chat. Just as soon as I found my belt. I know I wore it yesterday. Where could it have gone?  I searched for about twenty minutes until I realized I was already wearing it. I too am a college graduate. Heaven help us all.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Wrong Number

  


 
Once upon a time before there was Caller ID, a young man named Stuart would call our house and ask to speak to Bonnie. I would tell him that there was no one here by that name, say goodbye and hang up. A week later he called again and we had the same conversation. My mom overheard us talking and said, "Would it kill you to be Bonnie?"

I was 23-years-old, still living at home, and on the verge of becoming an old maid. "No, I'm not gonna pretend to be someone else. We don't even know anything about this guy except that his name is Stuart, and he doesn't know how to dial a phone. To which my mom replied, "Well, he seems nice."

This was at a period in my life when I was working at a job that I loved, but I was in between boyfriends; while my mother and grandmother both had steady beaus of their own. Hence, my grandma hatched her own plan.

My grandma decided that she was going to fix me up with her friend's grandson, after discussing it with his grandmother on the bus. She had never met the grandson, and barely knew the grandmother, but what did I have to lose? I thanked her and told her that I wasn't interested. Although that didn't stop her from handing out my phone number.

He called a few days later, and we laughed about how funny the situation was. The fact that our grandmothers were desperately trying to fix us up, was hard not to find amusing, Since our conversation went so well, we agreed to go out on a date.

I remember that we went to see the movie This Is Spinal Tap, and out for a nice dinner afterward. It was a fun evening, but we parted friends. We fulfilled our promises to our grandmothers, who may have sat on opposite ends of the bus from that point on, and nothing more. 

My mom waited up for me to find out how our date went. I told her that we had a good time, but that I wasn't interested in going out with him again. Then she said that she had a feeling we weren't going to hit it off, but not to worry. Before I could question why Mom announced, "Stuart called again, and I told him my Bonnie would call him back tomorrow."


*This is a repost from April 2012.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

IWSG: Secrets of Honor Cover Reveal

       




Once upon a time, there was a jewel thief. Her name was Katia. She worked for The Government. Yes, that government. But one day, Kat took something she shouldn’t have. She really shouldn't have done that.

This is an intriguing tagline for Carol Kilgore's latest book release. Since the Insecure Writer's Support Group coincides with the same week as her cover reveal, it seems only fitting to combine both events. If you haven't already done so, you can visit  Alex J. Cavanaugh, and the rest of the Insecure Writer's Support Group here.

The Top Ten Reasons Why I'm Insecure About Carol Kilgore's Secrets of Honor Cover Reveal 


  


 10. I've lost track of how many books Carol has written.
  9.  I haven't read as many book as Carol has written.
  8.  Carol's great at writing about sexy characters.
  7.  I write about my mom who's sexier than I am.
  6.  Carol writes mystery laced with humor.
  5.  Most of my humor remains a mystery to those who read it.                          
  4.  Secrets of Honor has a stunning cover.
  3.  I look stunning in a burqa.
  2.  Carol's bio is almost as entertaining as her books.

And the #1 reason why I'm insecure about Carol Kilgore's cover reveal:
 1. I wanted to kill two birds with one stone.
 1. No one does "Crime Fiction with a Kiss" better.


BLURB For Secrets of Honor

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.
As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.
Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.




BIO
Carol writes grocery lists, texts to her family, new lyrics to old songs for her dogs, love notes to her husband, and novels for herself. And for you. In between, she blogs weekly at Under the Tiki Hut and is active on Facebook and Twitter.
She sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.

LINKS

You can connect with Carol and her books here: