Helllooo Girlfriends!

Originally Published at www.girlfriendsbookclub.org

Hellloooo Girlfriends!

This is my first blog on the Girlfriends Book Club! I’m excited to be on the same “team” with so many fun authors, and hopefully they’ll think I’m a good addition to the blog.

I’ll start with a little bit about me. I write what I call women’s action-adventure. It’s a good amount of mystery, a little bit of romance, a lot feminist, and of course, totally incomplete without action and adventure. Did you ever see an action movie and think, “Why does the girl scream a lot and then fall down?” Well, if I made movies, they’d be a lot shorter. Scary man in a mask, calling from inside the house? Bam. Yes, officer, I appear to have shot a deranged psycho hiding in my attic, please send a coroner. The End. None of this waiting for the hunky hero to come save the girl; my heroines save themselves, and possibly the hunky hero too.

My first two books Bulletproof Mascara and Compact with the Devil form the basis for my Carrie Mae Mystery series. (Coming in 2015 – High Caliber Concealer!) They feature Nikki Lanier a twenty-something red-head who, in desperation, decides to sell make-up to make some cash, only to discover that the at home make-up sales giant Carrie Mae is also running a clandestine militant wing staffed by all women with the lofty goal of helping women everywhere.

If you just laughed while reading that, then you’ll know exactly what my friends did when I told them the idea. (They also promptly made up the Carrie Mae salute – chest thump into a mascara flip.) But I knew that I could write that book and that I could make it work. I knew that it would be funny, feminine, and feminist, and I could choreograph some awesome fight scenes.

I’ve written other things, and there have been books that I intended to write because they sounded like a good idea, but when I find the book that I have to write… have you ever heard the sound a metal pan makes when you take it off the burner and it starts to cool down? That little tiny ting? That’s what I hear when my brain produces a freshly baked perfect novel premise. And that’s what I heard the day I realized that at home make-up sales were an incredibly cut-throat business.

So hopefully you’ll join me as I search for the next tiny little auditory hallucination that tells me it’s time to sit down at a computer and make some stuff up.


nikki The other night I dreamed that fellow Stiletto Gang author Linda Rodriguez rewrote the back-story on the main character of my Carrie Mae Mystery seriesNikk Lanier. Nikki is a twenty-something red-headed linguistics major turned superspy with an overbearing mother and a steady boyfriend who works for the CIA. Notice how none of that background involves a whirlwind marriage and divorce from a blonde lawyer and the adoption of an African orphan? But by the time my dream Linda was done that’s what Nikki had. And in my dream, I kept thinking, “Maybe I could make the divorce work, but what am I supposed to do with a baby? I can’t just send it back!” And then I woke up in a cold editorial sweat trying to figure out I was going to jam all these changes into Nikki’s next adventure that I’m 30,000 words into with no place to add in a spare baby.

What I love is that in my dream, never once did I question why Linda was rewriting Nikki’s backstory, and it certainly never occurred to me that I could just reject the edits. Nope, once Linda wrote it down, it was set in stone. Never mind that Linda and I have never actually met in person or done any writing together what-so-ever. In my dream, the changes were done and that was that. The other odd thing about my dream was the very real dual reality of Nikki’s reality. Linda may have written it, but I couldn’t send the baby back to the orphanage because Nikki would be upset, and what would her friends think?

But once I woke up, calmed down and then stopped laughing, it occurred to me to wonder. Do other authors dream about other authors? Do they dream about their characters? Is my brain off the deep end or just averagely crazy? I may never know the answer to that one…

Don’t Feed the Gremlins

The premise of my Carrie Mae Mystery series is that in the sixties, while other ladies were burning their bras and inventing Tupperware, Carrie Mae Robart founded a door to door / friend to friend cosmetic selling empire – Carrie Mae Cosmetics. Her goal was to give women financial independence without having to work outside the home. However, the more women she met, the more she realized that there were some problems that couldn’t be solved with just money ­– some problems needed a fist in the face. So Carrie Mae set up the Carrie Mae Foundation. Financed by proceeds from the cosmetic sales, the foundation is part non-profit – working on pro-bono legal cases and lobbying government on women’s rights issues – and partly a women only, black-ops, elite fighting force. The heroines of my stories Nikki Lanier, Ellen Marson, Jenny Baxter and Jane Rozmarek are part of that force and they travel the world, fulfilling the Carrie Mae mission statement: helping women everywhere.

Now the thing you’ll notice about this premise is that it’s only partially based in reality. I mean, sure, it’s possible for a woman in the 1960’s to found a peer to peer make up sales company. Not that I know of any… ahem. But sadly, it has apparently never occurred to anyone to found an elite fighting force for women as part their non-profit. (If someone knows of one, please email me immediately; I would like to join up.) The problem with all of this lack of reality is that I have to make it sound plausible when writing. And that means all the other bits have to sound real. I have to research the guns and the locations and I try to make sure that my characters emotions feel authentic. But if I spend too much time in reality, I suddenly look at my own premise and think, “That’s ridiculous! I can’t write that.”

That’s right; I tell myself, “I can’t.” Those are some of the worst words in the English language. (Although, they’re still not as bad as, “We need to talk.”) I’m two books and two short stories, and half a manuscript into a series, and… I can’t? How does the Can’t Gremlin sneak into so many places? I thought I was well fortified behind the Walls of Fantasy; girded by the Armor of Gumption; defended by the Holy Force of Imagination. And yet… I can’t. Why is it so hard to get that jerk of a gremlin out of the house? Can’t have an elite fighting force? You might as well suggest that a woman can’t write books. The cycle of Can’t can be extremely hard to break, so when I get too down in the Can’ts, I like to read other people’s books. There’s nothing like a good trip through someone else’s imagination to leave the Can’t Gremlin in the dust. But still, I know he’s just waiting around the corner to trip me up. Which is why I prefer to visit reality infrequently and for only brief periods of time. Feel free to visit me any time, but leave your gremlins at the door – I can’t be bothered with Can’t today.

Power of Attorney

This past year I have been focusing on my graphic design business and having a child (see adorable picture of Zoe below) and it’s been hard to give the time required to write a novel. Not that I’ve stopped writing or wanting to write, but the amount of hours I have available is not what it once was. Since I had shorter hours I decided to shift to shorter projects and I’ve spent the past year working on short stories. This has been both hard and rewarding. Hard in that I’ve always worked in long format and short stories are structured differently than novels. Short stories have made me practice new skills and work in new ways and it has been extremely rewarding to see these new skills bear fruit.
But as my life (and daughter) settle back into a routine, I’m looking forward to returning to the novel structure. In fact, I have plans for a third Carrie Mae Mystery, High-Caliber Concealer, and an as yet to be named mystery set in the San Juan islands. I can’t wait to share these new adventures with you, but today I’m releasing the last of my pre-daughter short stories. Power of Attorney a Carrie Mae Mini-Mystery is now available! I hope you enjoy it!