The town I come from never amounted to much, just a small town over the hills from L.A., where the sign posted at the town limits reads, "Small Towns Are Smile Towns." My dad works as a machinist, turns out repair parts for diesel trucks. My mom clerks household supplies at K-Mart. She raised five kids, watched three of us leave home before we turned 18. The last time I saw her she was in the hospital with a broken hip, bruised ribs and a laceration above her eye. She claimed she fell off the front porch.

My dad likes to hit people.

I was working at a baby-photo studio called Hansel & Gretel's when I got into trouble with the law. At Hansel & Gretel's, the rooms and employees are decorated from the fairy tale. I was dressed as Gretel. I styled my long blonde hair into pigtails, painted red dots on my cheeks, wore a green jumper and a little yellow Gretel hat. I worked there for three years, got as high as assistant manager, still made little better than minimum wage.

Then I met Wrex.

Sometimes, good girls go for bad boys. Wrex looked like a modern barbarian. He rode a Harley and wore black Doc Martens laced half-way up his calves. His black leather jacket parted to a torn white T-shirt. Two big silver rings pierced his left ear, one his right, a cobra tattooed his right biceps and the lighting bolt logo of AC-DC streaked down his butt, the name of a rock group he discovered too late also meant lack of sexual preference. I didn't know any better then and thought he was sexy. Unfortunately, Wrex was also very, very stupid.

One night Wrex begged me to deliver a briefcase to a guy at LAX. I don't know why I agreed to do it. I think I was secretly bored with my life and looking for a change. The briefcase exploded thirty seconds after the trade. The police wanted me dead or alive after that and the gang that rigged the bomb ordered my execution. In that split second of detonation I stopped being a repressed good girl with a boring future and became a terrorist killer and fugitive from justice. My life changed so dramatically I didn't recognize it as my own.

I checked into a cheap hotel room and gave myself a bad girl makeover. I chopped my hair to a ragged cut and died it black, drank a half-pint of Jack Daniels and pierced my nose with a sewing needle. I tossed out my good-girl blouse and skirt and changed into outlaw black. Then I hid among the painters and video artists living in the wasteland of warehouses outside downtown L.A. I started to take photographs that I wanted to take rather than ones people ordered me to take. I thought for a while that I could be an artist, too.

But then the gang that rigged the bomb caught up to me and a lot of people got hurt. The rage that had built up in my heart over the years erupted like magma finding a vent. Two of the gangsters were shot to death - no witnesses - and the third drove his car sixty miles an hour into a gas pump. He lost control of the car because I was chasing him with a Harley and a .38 caliber handgun.

The jury decided that was manslaughter.

The judge sentenced me to seven years at California Institute for Women. One good thing about spending time in prison, it fills the gaps in your education. I entered CIW not knowing much except how to shoot a camera, plus the occasional handgun that fell into my hands. Now I know all about housebreaking, hooking, extortion and credit card fraud.

Under California's laws of determinate sentencing, a day was cut from my sentence for every one I worked. On the day of my release I drove to Las Vegas to marry Gabe, an English paparazzo in need of a green card. I married him for money and bought a 1976 Cadillac convertible with a 120,000 miles under it. I didn't bargain on having an affair with Gabe and I never dreamed I'd fall in love again. I barely had time to get to know him. He lied to me shamelessly, involved himself in something he couldn't handle and some bad people turned him to smoke and ashes. You can read about what happened in KILLING PAPARAZZI.

I'll turn 30 this year. I live in a small apartment a block from the beach in Venice. I freelance as a paparazza, selling my work to the tabloids. I'm hopeful that if I live long enough, good things will happen for me.

* * *