Free Books!

September 25, 2008

Now is that an attention-grabbing subject line or what? I’m a founding member of the mystery writer group The Femmes Fatales, and we’re giving away free books. Of course, there is a catch. You have to enter a contest, and answer questions about the Femmes.

For the details, visit the Femmes Fatales blog.

Why are you still here? Go! Didn’t you see the part about free books?


Here There Be Pirates!

September 22, 2008

Ahoy! It’s been a piratical week around here. First, of course, was Friday’s annual celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, always a red-letter day.

On Sunday, we went to the Salem Pirate Faire. Salem may be known for witches, but pirates were probably more common back in the day. This year’s Faire saw Captain Hook trying to find a bride and a treasure map, particularly the treasure map.

Here’s the captain himself, as portrayed by David Stickney, Executive Producer for the Faire:

There were shiploads of entertainers, including Roderick Russell, who is one of only fifty people foolhardy enough to practice sword swallowing. Fire eating is apparently not as impressive to him, but it sure impressed me.

And finally, here’s Captain Hasallmyparts, one of the contestants from the costume contest. Note this is NOT one of the show’s cast members. This is an attendee!

It was a beautiful day in a perfect setting, and we had a terrific time. So why am I regaling you with “what I did this weekend”? This is all by way of making an announcement.

The editor of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine has told me they will be publishing my pirate mystery story “The Pirate’s Debt,” and that’s a mighty good reason for me to celebrate all things pirate. I don’t know which issue the story will run in, I can say that the story features William Cunningham Ward, the lawyer from my previous pirate story “Skull and Cross-Examinations,” (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Feb. 2008).

So now you know why I’ve been in a swashbuckling mood. As the pirates probably never said, ARRRRRRRR!

It’s real, it’s real, it’s really real!

September 21, 2008

What a spiffy day! All four of us trundled down to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston today for NEIBA, the annual trade show for the New England Independent Booksellers Association. If you’ve never been to a book trade show, it’s booklovers’ heaven. Rows and rows of publishers displaying their upcoming books, plus authors signing books, plus giveaways galore.

I was there with the New England Sisters in Crime and New England Mystery Writers of America, talking to booksellers about our organization, our books, and each other’s books. Thanks to my publisher Five Star, I had twenty copies of Without Mercy to sign and give away, too, while my husband Steve was giving away copies of his book, Motivate Your Writing! 

Plus we chatted and compared notes with our fellow MWA and SinC members, both from the New England chapter and visiting members from the New York Chapters. So we saw Dana Cameron, Hans and Judy Copek, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Johnathan Shapiro, Shelia Connolly, Rosemary Harris, Sarah Smith, Mo Walsh, Meredith Cole, Kat Fast, Jane Cleland, and Liz Zelvin. (I imagine I missed somebody, for which I apologize.)

I also wandered through the show, picking up marketing material for books to come, some amazing galleys and really clever giveaways.  I was particularly happy about a catalog about a new edition of Maxfield Parrish’s Knave of Hearts, another catalog that lists my friend Margaret Fenton’s first book Little Lamb Lost, galleys of the HWA anthology Blood Lite and George Hamilton’s memoirs, and ten-year anniversary pins for Harry Potter.  Here’s some of the goodies:

At the Random House booth, I chatted with bloggers Ann Kingman and the appropriately named Michael Kindness. They publish Books on the Nightstand, a lovely blog about books and reading. They were actually blogging from the trade show floor, so go see what they posted. (I modestly point out that they put up a very nice photo of my husband and me.) So even though Steve and I gave away fifty books between us, I suspect we brought nearly that many home.

Had that been all that happened, I’d have considered it a day well spent. But here’s the capstone: I saw my first copy of Wolfsbane and Mistletoe. Midway through the day, Dana asked if I’d seen the copy at the Penguin Putnam display, which I’d missed despite intense scrutiny. So she lead me back over to the booth, and introduced me to the Penguin rep, whose name I have completely forgotten because I saw…THE BOOK.  It is beautiful! Foiled and embossed and with that amazing Lisa Desmini cover. 

I picked it up and caressed… I mean, examined it, and was so entranced that I nearly missed the Penguin rep telling me I could take it home. To keep. And caress… I mean, examine in detail at my leisure. I hardly put it down for the rest of the day.

It’s not like I hadn’t seen the cover, and read over every bit of that book multiple times. I’ve got the bound galley. I know everything that’s in the book. But there is nothing to compare with having a copy to hold, and show, and gloat over. Here I am, beaming.

Thanks to Dana, who found it and let me have it without arm wrestling for it, even though she has a story in it herself. (“The Night Things Changed” on page 32.) She was even gracious enough to sign her story for me. Now that’s friendship!

Photo by Hans Copek

So that was my extremely spiffy day. I hope yours was just as nice. And if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a book to look at.

By any other title…

September 18, 2008

Recent developments on the paperback reprint of Without Mercy–there’s not going to be a paperback reprint of Without Mercy.

No, no gnashing of teeth or beating of breasts is required. It turns out that when my book was presented in the Cover Meeting at Berkley, it was mentioned that they’d recently published a book entitled Without Mercy, and it would have confused issues mightily to add another. So that means my book needed a new title. So, with a triumphal fanfare, let me announce the May 2009 release of…

Curse of the Kissing Cousins

I mean to spread this news far and wide, because I don’t want readers who read Without Mercy to go out and buy Curse of the Kissing Cousins and get irritated. (It will be somewhere on the cover, but I tend to miss those important details myself.)

I’m curious to see if people will prefer the original title or the new one. Me? I like both, but it does seem appropriate to start fresh at Berkley with a new title. Now I can’t wait to see the cover that they come up with to go with it.

Per crimen ad astra

September 15, 2008

Recently Google Alerts alerted me to a most startling development. My story “How Stella Got Her Grave Back”, published in Many Bloody Returns, has been recommended for a Nebula Award for Best Short Story. As their website says, the Nebulas are annual awards presented by Science Fiction Writers and Fantasy Writers of America to celebrate excellence in science fiction and fantasy writing.

Now I hasten to add that this is NOT a Nebula nomination. The SFWA has an amazingly thorough process for nominating stories. Any story recommended by one member makes it to the list of recommended stories. (That’s where my story is now.) But a story must be recommended by at least nine more members to make it onto the preliminary ballot, and only the top five vote winners from the preliminary ballot make it onto the final ballot. It’s the stories on the final ballot that are considered Nebula nominees. Obviously, I’m a long way from that.

Still, my story has been recommended for a Nebula, and I’m just tickled to death.You see, I started out trying to write fantasy and science fiction, and frankly, I was terrible at it. For whatever reason, I’m better with mysteries, and since I didn’t want to mess with a good thing, since I realized that I’ve pretty much stuck with writing mysteries. And I’ve got no complaints. I’m having a great time, and I’ve been really happy to be part of the mystery community.  But there’s always been a piece of my heart that belonged to fantasy and science fiction. So I was delighted when Locus reviewed Many Bloody Returns, and danced the dance of joy when we made the Locus bestseller list.

Now comes this Nebula recommendation…  I don’t have any idea that I’ll make it to the preliminary ballot, let alone to the final ballot, but having my story listed on the Nebula site is enough for me.

After a long, mysterious trip, I’ve managed to find my way to the stars.

Countdown to True Blood

September 1, 2008

I want to announce publicly that I am not obsessed with True Blood. Okay, maybe I’ve been marking the days off on my calendar until the September 7 premier, but that’s totally reasonable because show is based on the book Dead Until Dark by my pal Charlaine Harris. Yeah, some dude named Alan Ball is involved and some other Oscar winner is starring in it, but the important part to me is…

based on Dead Until Dark by my pal Charlaine Harris!

So of course I’m pretty excited. After all, I’ve been a huge fan of Sookie Stackhouse since the beginning. In fact, I’ve been a fan since before the beginning. I read Dead Until Dark in manuscript. (Yes, that is me mentioned in the dedication to the book.) I loved it immediately–the voice, the characters, the setting, the action, the world, the sex, the mystery–it has everything. Charlaine being one of my favorite people on earth doesn’t hurt, either.

But that doesn’t mean I’m obsessed. Okay, sure after over twenty years without cable in my home, I had it installed primarily so we can watch True Blood. We have been watching other stuff, I swear. The Discovery Channel and BBC America and of course, the HBO specials heralding the making of True Blood. That’s not being obsessive.

Admittedly, I did annoy my daughter Valerie. Yesterday, I said, “Hey, you know what next Sunday is, right?”

“I sure do!” Valerie said. “I can’t wait!”

“Me, either. That’s when True Blood starts!”

“Anything else?” she replied frostily.

“Well, it’s a month before Wolfsbane and Mistletoe hits the shelves. That’s the anthology I co-edited with Charlaine Harris. But True Blood starts this week!”

“Anything else?”


“It’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!”

“I knew that. How about a vampire birthday party this year?”


I tried to explain that she has had nine other birthdays, whereas this is the first episode of True Blood, but she didn’t buy it. You know, maybe I am obsessed…