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Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

by Jo Robertson

This is one of the frequent questions asked of authors. The standard answer, of course, is everywhere. Travel, school, home and family, church, any experience you’ve ever had goes into the catalogue of your brain computer. Lots of it is drivel, and you’re glad you don’t have the access code to it.

But often there’s a kernel of an idea, the budding seed of a character or plot or setting that speaks to your imagination.

My idea for the serial killer that inhabits Kate Myers and Ben Slater’s lives in my debut book THE WATCHER came from an abnormal psychology class I took. Great ideas in psych classes, by the way. I don’t want to spoil the journey into the killer’s dark mind, however, so I’ll just say that the concept of his pathology, what drives him to kill a certain type of person, is based on the true case of a person like my killer, whom I’ve named John Smith. I love the benign, ordinary sound of his name. In the actual psychology case, the patient wasn’t a murderer, however, but his uniqueness made me ask questions: how would a person like this feel growing up? How would he handle changes in his life? What kind of family dynamic might torture him further?

Thus, my antagonist sprang to life in my mind.

Slater, my hero, came more slowly, but I knew I wanted him to be a man of honor, foremost (he’s a deputy sheriff in a small town) and suspicious of women second because of a great tragedy in his life.

While I was teaching high school, I took a lot of random classes at the local university, primarily to move myself up on the pay scale, but also because I love learning. drama classes, math, English. Finally, I settled into psychology and criminal justice. Every story or experience related by my teachers opened my mind to the possibility of more ideas, all based on WHAT IF?

How about you, readers? How do you stimulate your creative juices? Whether it’s art, music, writing, scrapbooking, or handwork, what motivates you to indulge in your passion? What do you do for fun and entertainment? Any out-of-the-box kinds of hobbyists out there?

One lucky commenter will receive an autographed copy of THE WATCHER, so be sure to leave a comment and thanks for visiting today!

Color Me Creative

by Tawny

I love color. Color and paint and texture and visual bursts of excitement. My living room, hall and dining room are warm tan with an orange wash, and on one wall of the dining room I added magenta and purple to the wash so it looks like sunset.

My family room is shades of sage, with the lower walls ragged with dark green and the upper walls a paler hue. My office is purple, my youngest daughters room pink stripes with multi-colored polka dots. The kitchen is sunflower yellow with royal blue accents. Yep, I love color!

I love color so much, I can’t live without it. When we bought our new house, the first thing I did after putting away the packing boxes was haul out the paint roller. I had those rooms I already mentioned painted before all our mail was forwarded!! I did make plans for the other rooms paint (red in the hall, periwinkle and teal in the girls’ bathroom, yellow in my bedroom and a dove gray with just a hint of lavender in the powder room) but put those off until after my next book deadline. Which quickly turned into another, then another deadline. So those rooms are missing their paint– but have the promise of what colors they will be!

But this month, with my oldest daughter moving out (pause to sob copiously) I was faced with the challenge of choosing colors for yet another room. First I had to decide what the purpose of the room would be (different colors have different vibes). I knew it’d be a guest room for when the grandparents (and any writing buddies- c’mon over!) come to visit. I knew I’d be moving the elliptical and exercise equipment in there. And while I debated it for months, I finally decided that I’d also move my scrapbook stuff out of my office and into there. Mostly because I moved the homeschool stuff into my office, and it just isn’t big enough to serve three purposes.

So the theme of the room is relaxation and energy (nice, huh) and creativity. I wanted it to be welcoming and fun, but still have a soothing overtone. It was, while it was my daughter’s, tan with red stripes of varying widths. Since I had the scrapbook theme in mind, I turned to scrapbook paper for my inspiration! I’m going with shades of blue, a hint of teal, a dash of lime and a nice chocolate to balance it all out.

A few years ago, I blogged about color and how much I love it, vs people like my brother who lives in all white with black furnishings and accessories (right down to his photos being black and white). So as I revisit the joy of paint – I’m curious.

What’s your take on color? Are your rooms colorful or mellow? If you could, what color would you paint your next room? Do you let mood affect your choice or do you pick a color and run with it?

The Great Minnesota Get Together

by Susan Sey

There are a lot of reasons I love my adopted home state of Minnesota but one of the biggest is the state fair.

We have the world’s best state fair. Nothing against your state fair, I’m sure it’s lovely. But the MN state fair just makes me happy. It’s about five miles from my house, first of all, but there’s a free park & ride less than a mile away that runs every fifteen minutes from 8 a.m. until midnight so we bike over there. I’m all about letting Metro Transit do the heavy lifting when it comes to fair traffic and parking.

Then there’s the 4H building. I was never in 4H as a kid but I love their projects. (Who knew wool was so versatile? And the seed art!) Plus they put on an adorable little musical every year that usually involves pirates. I don’t know what pirates have to do with 4H but I’m in favor.

I also love the competitions. Checking out the blue ribbon cakes, the home-made honey, the preserves & knitted goods. I always thing to myself, “Next year I’m going to enter my cookies,” but I never do. I’m an happy amateur.

Then there’s the food. Everything you ever wanted to eat (and then some.) On a stick, too. Even foods you didn’t think could go on a stick. A few years back the they put mac & cheese on a stick. (This girl’s verdict? Meh.) Last year the big deal was chocolate dipped bacon on a stick. (Again, better in theory than in practice.)

This year the big talkers are sweet corn ice cream (yes please) and breakfast on a stick. This consists of a sausage patty dipped in cornmeal waffle batter deep fried & drizzled with maple syrup. Three words: Sign. Me. Up.

Then there’s my favorite part. The Milk Run. Sponsored by the Minnesota Dairy Farmers, it’s a 5k race the opening weekend of the fair, starting & ending on the fairgrounds. For the price of the race you get a t-shirt, an admission ticket to the fair, some free dairy goods (last year it was yogurt), a ticket to the all-you-can-drink milk booth and a free milkshake. Plus it starts at 7:45 a.m. so you’re done at like 8:30. You’re a little sweaty but you’re at the fair. You’d get sweaty without the 5k. Time to cash in that milk shake ticket & get your fair on while the fair grounds are cool & uncrowded.

That, by the way, is where I am today. The Milk Run kicked off at 7:45 & this year my 8 year old is running it with me. The rest of the family is joining us at the finish line & we’re hitting the 4H booth. But not before I check out that breakfast on a stick thing. I’ll report back.

How about you? Do you enjoy the fair season? What’s your favorite treat on a stick?

Bandita Booty!!!!!!!!

And the winner of a copy of Redeeming the Rogueis

JENNIFER TANNER
JENNIFER – if you can go to www.DonnaMacMeans.com and send me your contact information, I’ll get your book out asap.
Thanks everyone for stopping by on such an “earth-shattering” day (grin)

Just Call Me Auntie

by Susan Sey

My summer has been frantic.

All summers are frantic, I know. They’re billed as the height of relaxation–all hammocks & cool lemonades, campfires & fishing–and I seem to remember that experience from when I was a kid. But now that I’m a mom, I’m manufacturing summer rather than experiencing it & it’s a hell of a lot busier.

This summer, for example, one of my kids got the theatre bug so next thing I know we’re committed to rehearsals from 6-9 p.m. four nights a week.

And then there was Summer Academy for one kid. (It’s an extension of the school’s Gifted & Talented program, so how can a decent parent say no?) Summer Academy had us at the bus stop at 7:15 a.m. for all of June. So our day started at 6 & wrapped up at 10.

Then there was RWA’s national conference backing up to the Fourth of July weekend, and then there were houseguests. Lots and lots of houseguests. Beloved relatives, yes, but…right there in the house.

Then my sister had a baby. And whenever one of my sisters has a baby, I load up the kids in the big green van & we drive twelve hours home to Michigan to greet the new cousin. (It happened twice last year, & once this year. I have a lot of sisters.)

As you might imagine, I was exhausted by the time I rolled into Detroit. Really, honestly, to-the-bone exhausted.

Then I met Lucy Abigail. (This isn’t her, btw. Out of respect for my sister’s privacy I found a random cute baby on the internets for your viewing pleasure.) But still, there she was. Lucy. All 6 lbs, 10 oz of fresh-out-of-the-oven miracle & I thought, “Why don’t I drive home more often?”

Seriously. That is the severity of my weakness for babies. I hadn’t slept more than five hours at a pop for a month, I’d left house guests behind & would come home to another set (once more beloved relatives but still) and here I was trying to slot more travel into the schedule.

I’ll admit it. This is an addiction. I have an addiction to babies, & I will move heaven & earth to feed it. Especially if they are my sisters’ babies. Holding those fragile, precious little bundles of brand new life, inhaling that new baby smell, knowing this is my blood even though I didn’t have to do irreparable damage to my own ha-cha-cha to bring it into this world? It’s a miracle, & it gets me every single time.

How about you? Do you have any unreasonable addictions you’ll go to any lengths to feed? Obviously mine is nieces & nephews, but I’ll also cop to Diet Coke & romance novels. Your turn!

Bandit Booty


Is anyone surprised by the fact that I’m behind on giving out my prize from my blog on the 17th? Sadly, I’m not.

Anyway…the winner is Deb! YAY!!! Applause! Deb wins a signed copy of One Night Scandal!

Please me your address at christie @ christiekelley . com

The Circle of Life

When you read the title of this post, the song from The Lion King probably popped into your head. I loved that movie, the Broadway play and the soundtracks to both. In that story, we’re shown that there truly is a circle to life. We are born, we live and then we die. That cycle is very much on my mind today as I’ve been a witness to that circle in the past week.

While I was out of town, my dad passed away. (That’s him with Mom and me last Christmas.) I’d seen him a couple of days before I left for New York, on Father’s Day when I’d gone to Kentucky for a family reunion. The thought that it was the last time I’d ever see him never entered my mind despite the fact he’d not been fairing well in recent years. But here’s the thing — we’d always joked that Dad was like a Timex. He took a licking and kept on ticking. This man had been shot and lost the lower half of his right arm at age 27, had a massive stroke at age 50 but went back to logging as soon as he was able, and had a heart attack sometime in his 60s. He was a tough bird, one too stubborn to die. But at age 72, his heart gave out as he slept. It still doesn’t seem real. On the way through my hometown on the day of his funeral, I found myself looking at the parking lot of one of his coffee-drinking haunts expecting to see his car. It wasn’t there. It’s still parked in front of his house. I think the most surreal thing was seeing the fact of his death in black and white — in the obituary, on the memorial video they showed at the visitation, on the death certificates I just received in the mail yesterday.

But I don’t want this post to be morbid or too sad because after I came home a couple of days ago, I was reminded that while lives must end, they also begin. My husband told me that while he’d been mowing our back yard he discovered we have a little burrow with two baby bunnies in it. I love bunnies, and these little guys are just adorable. They are at the beginning of the circle of life. Granted, my dad hunted his share of rabbits in his life and never quite understood my huge soft spot of animals of all kinds, but I think even he would have thought these little fellas are too cute for words.

So I’m going to watch them grow, smile every time I see them, and appreciate each day I have here on this earth and be thankful that my dad was tough enough to survive longer than a great many people. He got to see my sister and me grow up, graduate, and get married. He got to see his two granddaughters, my nieces. He got to see the pictures my sister took when she worked at Yellowstone National Park and me publish six books. I’ve been told he carried that first book with him everywhere he went and told everyone he met that his daughter wrote it. We didn’t always see eye to eye or have the most perfect relationship, but I know he loved my sister and me and was proud of us. Not everyone can say that.

So here’s to Dad. I hope you’re hanging out with some bunnies in Heaven.

Bandit Booty for Something in the Coffee

There’s SOMETHING IN THE COFFEE and

JENNIFER TANNER (PINK)

is the recipient! Jennifer, please email Rose at RoseMaybud@live.com for your free download.

Thanks everyone for participating!

THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE

by KJ Howe

Now, didn’t that title grab you? Andrea Kane is our guest today, and her latest book THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE is a phenomenal read. To complete the book, Andrea did extensive research with the FBI. I thought this would make a fabulous post, so please welcome Andrea to the Lair.

Over the past several years, I’ve had the amazingly good fortune of working closely with the FBI.I’ve consulted with the Bureau’s Crimes Against Children Unit, the Asian Criminal Enterprise Task Force, the Crisis Negotiation Unit, the Behavioral Analysis Unit (a la “Criminal Minds”), members of various Evidence Response Teams (the Federal equivalent of “CSI”), the Art Crime Team, and more.I’ve visited several field offices and resident agencies (smaller, local offices), and I’ve toured FBI Headquarters in Washington DC.I’ve learned how to shoot a Glock, how to handle a hostage negotiation, and how to speak FBI (hundreds of acronyms!).

And then there’s Quantico.I’ve made more than one trip down there—I even did a book signing at the FBI Academy bookstore.It’s a world unto itself, with extensive training grounds, an impressive shooting range, and the legendary Hogan’s Alley—a man-made town that feels as real as your home town, except that it’s populated by FBI agents, new agents in training, and actors who are hired to bring simulated crime scenes to life.

Last Fall, I was asked by the Newark Field Office (they’re responsible for the entire state of New Jersey) to be their celebrity keynote speaker at an off-site conference with their entire staff.Making a speech in front of hundreds of the most brilliant and dedicated men and women I’ve ever had the honor of working with. Not too intimidating!

Besides being awesome pros, they’re also awesome hosts.I was greeted with warmth and enthusiasm, and the day was a blast!I made my speech, did a great book signing during which I got the chance to talk to and get to know many of the agents and support staff I had yet to meet—and to reconnect with those I’d already met—professionals who’d helped me inject the authenticity I needed to build my characters and to construct suspenseful storylines.On top of all that, the field office honored me with a beautiful plaque, thanking me for my contribution.I’ll treasure that plaque forever!

Bottom line– The agents and support staff at the FBI are amazing at making themselves available to me.They also know that I’m a sticker for authenticity, as are they.So, before I convert any manuscript into a book, I have the experts who helped me read over all the pertinent sections they helped me create.I make whatever corrections they recommend.And I NEVER cross the line when it comes to situations that are delicate.I err on the side of “don’t release this” even though what I’m privy to is not classified.


Andrea Kane’s groundbreaking romantic thriller,Run For Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller, paving the way for a series of smash hits.

Her most recent triumphs,TwistedandDrawn in Blood, featured the dynamic FBI team of Special Agents Sloane Burbank and Derek Parker.

The Girl Who Disappeared Twiceintroduces Forensic Instincts, an eclectic team of maverick investigators. Despite their differences, they have one common bond— a blatant disregard for authority. Armed with skills and talents honed by years in the FBI and Special Forces, and with training in behavioral and forensic psychology, Forensic Instincts solves seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement.

With a worldwide following and novels published in over twenty languages, Kane is also the author of fourteen historical romances. She lives in New Jersey with her family, where she is plotting new ways for Forensic Instincts to challenge the status quo.


Andrea, thanks for joining us here today and sharing your adventures. Fascinating! If you’d like to meet Andrea, she’ll be at ThrillerFest (www.thrillerfest.com) in July in NYC. For more information about Andrea and her books, visit www.andreakane.com

Bandit Booty


I’m late again with my prizes from my release party. But I did get two names picked so here they are…the winners of a signed copy of One Night Scandal:

Margaret

J M Powers

Please email me at christie @ christiekelley.com with your name and address and I’ll get the book out to you.

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