Season’s Greetings!

I finished the final draft of Book 9, SPY HIGH, on Sunday and the first beta reader is already finished – woohoo!  Now I’m looking forward to a week of family, food, and festivities.  Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and general merriness to you if you don’t!


MWF Seeking Woman With Gun

This week I’m working on the cover art for the sixth book of my series, and I’m wading through images that range from OMG to WTF and everything in between.

As you may have noticed, the visual theme for the Never Say Spy series is “woman with gun”.  Try searching that phrase on a stock photo site.  You won’t believe the range of results.  Apparently there’s an enormous need for stock photos of women from all walks of life holding firearms.

Brides, women in schoolgirl uniforms, soldiers, police officers, business women, rednecks, slutty cops in lingerie, bikini models in sky-high heels, punks, cowgirls, pregnant women, pioneers, spies, pirates, Cossacks, construction workers, Muslim women, duck hunters, and female SWAT personnel are just a few of the variations I’ve found.

Wardrobe choices range from leather, lace, fur, camo, denim, and spandex to more unusual garb like plastic wrap, tartan micro-minis, hard hats, headscarves, men’s pajama tops, parkas, sailor suits, a Napoleon uniform, metallic gold body paint, and nothing but a hat.

Clearly most of these women have never actually fired a gun, though it would be fun to watch them try using those grip positions.  And maybe I’m just a strait-laced old lady, but I’ve never felt the urge to shoot in the nude (or even wearing a nice conservative string bikini).  I prefer to keep my tender parts covered when there are hot brass cartridges flying around.  I guess I’m just a wimp.

Weapon choices vary wildly.  There are the usual assault rifles, semi-auto pistols, shotguns, revolvers, and air rifles, but bananas seem to be an extremely popular choice of weapon, too.  I wonder if the gun control advocates realize that these deadly weapons are readily available in every supermarket, stored within easy reach of children.  It’s shocking, I tell you.

If you’re looking for more unusual weapons, there are dangerous-looking women brandishing paintball guns, water pistols, fingers, hair dryers, tattoo guns, drills, cannons, gasoline nozzles, muskets, flintlocks, nerf guns, cameras, caulking guns, or a heavy-duty perforator.  If I ever write a thriller about construction workers, I’m gonna use the photo of the blonde with the hard hat and perforator.  That chick’s got muscles.

And… in all the thousands of photos retrieved by searching “woman with gun”, there was one picture of a cowed-looking young guy in a shirt and tie, holding a little-bitty gun and looking apologetic.  I’m not sure whether the photo was tagged wrong or whether they popped that one in there just for fun, but I got a good laugh out of it.

Which was nice, because I figured they owed me after making me look at a naked woman posing with a bleeding, severed pig’s head.  No matter what you need, there’s a stock photo out there for you.  Though if you need that one, please don’t tell me.  I’d rather sleep tonight.

But I really can’t complain.  There are worse ways to spend a day than looking at pictures on the internet while blasting my favourite tunes.

I’m off to work now…

What are you up to today?  Brandishing your banana?  Decapitating pigs?  Do tell.

A Scholarly Treatise On The Care And Feeding Of Your Pet Author

Authors can be lovable and agreeable family pets.  Most are easily housebroken, though some may exhibit a disturbing tendency to piddle while absorbed in a particularly difficult bit of plotting or worldbuilding.  This is not a sign of aggression.  It is simply inattentiveness on the part of your author.  Gently but firmly insist that they take regular potty breaks, or, if this proves ineffective, place an adult diaper on the chair before they sit.  The author is unlikely to notice or object.

Authors are territorial by nature.  It is important to nip this behaviour in the bud.  Your author must learn that he or she is part of the household, and as such, must share the domain with the rest of the family.  However, your author will be happier and more relaxed if you allow him or her to have a “safe zone”.  If possible, provide your author with a small desk, and refrain from disturbing the area unless absolutely necessary.

Your author may begin to show possessiveness toward other areas of the house, usually by leaving behind droppings such as laptops, pens, papers, and so on.  If this happens, immediately remove the droppings, clean the area thoroughly, and relocate the droppings to the author’s safe zone.  Your author will soon learn that leaving droppings outside their own territory is unacceptable behaviour.

As with any pet, it is important for you to be vigilant about your author’s diet.  Authors will gobble almost any food they encounter in an effort to return to their safe zone and resume their natural writing behaviour as quickly as possible.  Be strict.  Your author’s health depends on it.  Although an unhealthy diet may seem harmless when your author is young, you will ultimately pay the price in medical bills as your author ages.

Regular exercise is important, too, but sadly, most authors resist almost any form of fresh air or exercise.  Some authors may be enticed to exercise if offered rewards such as the opportunity to work out with attractive and scantily-clad members of the opposite sex, however, this is by no means a sure-fire method.

Some owners report that they have successfully induced their authors to exercise by running away with the liquor bottle, forcing the author to chase them in order to retrieve it, but this strategy may ultimately result in hostile or aggressive behaviour on the part of your author.  This is an area in which you must apply your own creativity to find the best solution.

Many laypersons consider authors to be nocturnal creatures, but in fact, authors are capable of wakefulness at any hour of the day or night.  If the clicking of the keyboard disturbs your sleep at night, or if your author sleeps through important daytime events, it is possible to gradually adjust your author’s sleep rhythm to one that is more compatible with your household.

Begin by determining your author’s favourite treats.  These may include food, alcohol, or sexual favours, but be cautious in your use of the latter.  Nobody likes an overly-affectionate author, and many authors are incapable of the level of judgement required to discern appropriate public behaviour.

Regardless of the type of treat you choose, you must begin the conditioning process up to one-half hour before you want your author to retire for the night.  Gently direct your author’s attention to the treat (remember, it may be dangerous to startle an author who is deeply involved in writing behaviour).

Once you have engaged your author’s attention, lure him or her into the bedroom with the treat.  Then allow your author to enjoy the treat.  If your author tries to leave the bedroom afterward, offer subsequent treats until the author loses consciousness or falls asleep.  Repeat every night for at least twenty-one days, or until the new habit is established.  Note:  This method is only successful if you withhold the treat at all other times.

The keys to the entire training process are patience, firmness, and consistency.  Though keeping an author may seem an arduous chore at first blush, your efforts will ultimately be rewarded with long years of loyalty and affection, dedications in obscure books, and occasionally, royalties.

News:  I’m so excited!  I’ve got the cover art for my first four books, and the planned release date for the Kindle version of NEVER SAY SPY is October 15 (hopefully all versions will be released that day, but will know more soon).  Covers and book blurbs are here.