Friday, December 21, 2007

Reflections on 55

This morning I woke up to a cat licking the top of my head. I also woke up to the realization that I am officially 55 years old -- double nickles. I spent a few minutes reflecting on this fact. Not brooding about it, mind you. I'm not one of those people who freak out about getting older or who try to hide it or turn back the clock with surgery or a mid-life crisis. This is simply what 55 is and looks like in my world.

The life I live now is definitely not what I pictured for myself at this age. I'm not complaining, it's just not anything like I had expected. If you had asked me 25 years ago what I expected at 55, I would have shrugged and cracked a joke about "I should live so long!" Fifteen years ago, I would have told you that at the age of 55 I expected to be married (I was engaged when I was 40), retired from legal work, and writing up a storm.

Okay, 1 out of 3 ain't bad. Ending the engagement had been a very good thing and the law firm where I'm employed is a good place to be, with nice people and interesting work .

My mother died when she was 52 years old. I remember having a bit of a meltdown when I turned 52. I was sure that any moment I would keel over dead or find some terrible disease lurking in my body. But here I am three years later, healthy, generally happy, and with my life long dream of being a published author a reality. Not bad for an old fart.

Because of my writing career, I'm working much harder now than I expected to be at this age; an age when most folks are gearing up financially and emotionally for retirement. I'm still looking forward to retirement from my paralegal career, hopefully by the time I'm 60, if not sooner. But the hours I keep between my day job and my writing are grueling.

In a few hours, I'll be climbing aboard a cruise ship for a 3-day cruise to Baja. It's a working vacation. I'll be speaking to the passengers on Sunday about mystery writing and will be working on the last bit of Epitaph Envy on deck a few hours a day. Two friends are going with me, Susan Groeneweg and Kate Thornton, so it should be a grand time. Working or not, it's still my birthday/Christmas vacation.

Do I have any regrets? Yes, of course. I could have been smarter in many aspects of my life. I've taken risks that didn't work out. Made decisions that weren't always the best. I'm one of those people who seems to learn things the hard way. But if there's one thing life has taught me in 55 years, it's to be flexible. Priorities change or morph into other things and you have to be ready to go with the flow or you might miss something really good, even if you do fall on your ass along the way.

11 days to my deadline for Epitaph Envy. 365 days to my next birthday!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don't Delay! Contest Deadline Coming Up!

The December 31st contest deadline is approaching for "How Well Did You Follow the Trail to the Pail."

If you have not entered, you still have time. Entries are being accepted until midnight (pacific time) on December 31st. When 2008 arrives in Los Angeles, the contest will close!

Prizes include a signed copy of Thugs and Kisses, the 3rd Odelia Grey book, along with other goodies. There will be 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes awarded.

For details, go to the Contests page on my website.

As for the other deadline ... only 18 days left to go for me to complete Epitaph Envy! And in spite of the crazy day job, Christmas, and my own inertia, I'm still on schedule.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

My Turn at Inkspot

I'm blogging today at The Inkspot. Drop on by and say hello.

The topic is deadlines.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Last Signing of the Year!

I will be at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood on Thursday, December 6, 2007, at 7:00 p.m., signing Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters, the holiday anthology for the benefit of Toys for Tots. Also signing with me with be Gay Kinman, another author featured in the book.

The Mystery Bookstore
1036-C Broxton Avenue
Los Angeles, CA

The Mystery Bookstore will also be accepting new toys Thursday night for donation to Toys for Tots.

This will be my last book signing until late January 2008.

Come on down!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Odelia Grey is Up for Sale

It's official, the film/tv option on Too Big To Miss is back on the market.

After careful consideration, an extension, and the continuing writers' s strike, the option has officially lapsed and will not be renewed by the initial optionee.

I write this announcement with a mixture of sadness, disappointment and, surprisingly, even excitement.

Who knows who is out there thinking Odelia is just the gal for them? Who knows what other exciting adventures I'll have with someone new on the other side of a contract? Only time will tell.

There has been some interest here and there from other parties, so maybe one of them will be just the ticket for this new phase in the continuing Odelia Grey Goes To Hollywood adventure. My agent will be contacting them this week. Keep your fingers crossed.

TV options make great Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, don't they?

Buy one for your family's actor, producer or director today!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

With about a month left until I must hand over Epitaph Envy to my publisher, I got bogged down in the ending. Still, I was on target to have it done, not only on time, but a bit early, as long as the characters and the plot line cooperated. As usual, I had the whole idea worked out. And as usual, my characters told me “No way, Jose.” [Sigh] What’s an author to do?

My muse, the ghost of Selma Diamond for those of you recently joining this blog, has not taken her duties seriously in the past few months. I don’t know if she’s found another writer to assist, or if maybe she’s walking the picket line with the Writers Guild of America, but she was AWOL. At least until Thursday morning when she miraculously showed up, shook me awake, and showed me the new game plan for the ending of Epitaph Envy. I, in turn, showed it to my characters. They unanimously approved it and now we’re back on track.

Thank you everyone – Odelia, Greg, Steele, Zee, etc. Can we get back to work now? Huh, can we?

Not so fast. Just as I found myself ready to plunge back into the writing frenzy of the last few chapters, I also found myself on a conference call at work which led to a few new projects and the possibility of traveling for the office. This month. In the next few weeks. Before my deadline. With the holidays and my birthday cruise in the mix.

If you don’t hear from me for awhile, it’s because I’m spending every waking moment I’m not at my day job pounding the keyboard. Even though I’m still on target for an early finish, I’m still playing beat the clock. This time it’s against something that might happen.

31 days left.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Calling All E-Mail Addresses

I am about to release my first ever e-mail newsletter through Vertical Response and would like to include everyone interested in news about the Odelia Grey series and upcoming Ghost of Granny Apple series. The first issue will be going out in about 1-2 weeks, in time for the holidays.

If you would like to be on my e-mail newsletter list, please drop me a note with your e-mail address. DO NOT POST IT HERE, PLEASE.

Your e-mail will not be seen by others and you will not be spammed because of my newsletter. The newsletter will be sent to you directly by Vertical Response.

To be included, send your name and e-mail address to

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am thankful for:

Family and friends;

Readers of my work, may you continue to enjoy my books;

My agent, manager, editors, publicist and everyone at Llewellyn/Midnight Ink for helping my dreams come true;

Good health;

Good day job;

The ability and desire to write;

My kitties;

A generally good outlook on life;

The upcoming presidential election;

Pumpkin cheese cake.

Friday, November 16, 2007

And the Race is On!

There are only six full weeks left in the year.
44 days until my 4th Odelia Grey manuscript, Epitaph Envy, is due to my publisher.

And, as usual, the race is on and I'm packing penalty weight.

I'm pleased to say that Epitaph Envy is humming along nicely. I'm much further along on it than I was last year at this time on Thugs and Kisses, and I made that deadline. Okay, by the skin of my teeth, but I made it! I expect to have Epitaph Envy done by the end of Thanksgiving weekend or at least by December 1st. That will leave all of December for honing and polishing. The goal is to turn the manuscript in on December 21st, 10 days early, and the day I leave on my birthday weekend cruise.

The problem is, the last six weeks of the year are often the busiest at my day job and this year is no different. In a few minutes I'll be leaving for work, a few hours earlier than usual, to wrangle some of the voluminous year-end deals that have crossed my busy desk and must close by year-end. Then there's Christmas shopping and the usual holiday parties. My December calendar is deceptively empty. It's not that I don't have things planned for December, but that I haven't taken the time to transfer my schedule to my Year-At-A-Glance wall calendar. Perhaps I'm afraid that if I do, I'll have an anxiety attack. It's much easier to think about my schedule in 2008 then what's left of 2007.

Add to the above the fact that my publisher has also sent me the proofs of Thugs and Kisses. I need to review those and return them right after Thanksgiving so the book can go to print in time.

Anyway, one foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Before I know it, Epitaph Envy will be done, the deals closed, and I will be on that cruise!

Then I start on the manuscript for The Ghost of Granny Apples due August 1, 2008.
Just breathe, Sue. Just breathe.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Quickies Are Always Fun!

Even the traveling kind. This past weekend I spoke at a Legal Secretaries, Inc. conference in Grass Valley, CA, which is located about an hour north of Sacramento at the foot of the Sierras. Although the conference was held over the entire weekend, I flew up very early Saturday morning and returned home last night. I gotta tell ya, these ladies (and a few gents) know how to have fun! I know this not only from my weekend jaunt but from my 35 years of experience working in the law.

I was the Saturday evening banquet speaker and at the last minute threw away my more formal speech in favor of a wing-it free-style speech filled with humorous jokes and comments based upon my experiences not only as a paralegal but as a mystery writer. The audience must have enjoyed it because at the end of the evening we were pretty much wiped out of books.

Book sales were handled by The Book Seller (107 Mill St Grass Valley,CA. Phone: 530-272-2131), a lovely independent bookseller. Manager Karen and her assistant Sunny could not have been nicer or more fun. In fact, The Book Seller ran out of books near the end of the evening and Sunny ran back to the store in the rain (which, fortunately, was just 2 blocks away from the hotel) and cleaned out those they were reserving for the store.

Breakfast on Sunday morning was also a hoot. The speaker was Devere "Dee" Mautino, a gracious and feisty senior who is the former mayor of Grass Valley and long time member of LSI. Ms. Mautino, dressed to the nines, complete with matching hat, brought down the house with her wry humor and observations.

After breakfast, I climbed in a rental car with four fun ladies from San Diego and headed to the Sacramento airport by way of a sight-seeing trip to Nevada City.

Both Grass Valley and Nevada City were so lovely and fun that I can't wait to go back in the spring for a book signing at The Book Seller.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Support the Writers Strike!

I live just north of Sony Studios and just south of Fox Studios. Every day when I drive to work, I see the men and women walking the picket lines.

As I writer of novels, you'd think I would not be affected by the WGA strike. Not so. The TV option on my first book, Too Big To Miss, was up for renewal recently. The optioner is on the picket line. The irons he had in the fire for my book are all on hold. Considering the situtation, my agent and I have granted him an extension of time.

But the option aside, I believe in what these talented folks are fighting for and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in spirit.

There is an on-line petition which folks can sign to show their support of the striking writers. If you support the strike, please sign it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Words of Wisdom?

Today I've scattered my dubious words of wisdom over at Inkspot. Drop on by. The Writer is in.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Don't Tell Me It's Monday Already?

Friday night, a handsome, smart man took me to dinner. Did I also tell you that he was younger (much younger) than me? And married?

It was also NOT a date. Rats! Friday night I stopped by the Mystery Book Store and caught up with pals Simon Wood and Tim Maleeny. After, Tim bought me dinner at the Japanese restaurant across the street where we plotted the overthrow of publishing as we know it and planned our individual futures. Friday night I also met Mark Coggins, a delightful fellow author who is represented by Whitney Lee, who is also my agent.

Sunday, after the Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles meeting, I had dinner with Kate Thornton, who I've known for years. Kate is a kick-ass short story writer who is current trying to focus on writing a novel. From her description of it, it will also be kick-ass. She just has to keep her butt in the chair long enough to write it. Seems that after every chapter, she thinks she done. Silly short story writer!

Between my two lovely dinners, I put my own butt in the chair long enough to pump out three clean chapters in Epitaph Envy. No housework was done. No extra curricular activies such as shopping, movies, etc. Just me and the keyboard for hours and hours and hours. But in the end I was thrilled with my progress.

58 days to deadline - there is going to be a lot more butt in the chair time ahead for me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Say Howdy to Morgan Hunt - My New BFF

Got together for dinner Tuesday night with Morgan Hunt, a mystery author from Oregon. Morgan and I had been burning up the phone lines and e-mail waves brainstorming promotional ideas for her book Sticky Fingers, so when she finally made it to Los Angeles on tour, we just had to meet and yak in person.

Morgan writes the Tess Camillo series which features a middle-age lesbian living in San Diego, who, in the midst of investigating the death of a woman murdered by snake bite, finds herself facing the horrors of a mastectomy. A breast cancer survivor herself, Morgan brings a lot of courage and insight to this all too common tragedy while producing a fun and lively mystery. The character of Tess is quirky, sassy, and intelligent. Morgan is currently working on the 2nd book in the series.

Other BFFs, Simon Wood and Tim Maleeny, will be at the Mystery Book Store in Westwood, along with Mark Coggins, on Friday night at 7 pm. If you're in the area, come on down!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Welcome to the Cat House

No, not THAT kind of cat house. I run the kind of cat house that caters to felines. Specifically, two very spoiled, loved and pampered cats named B and Raffi.

I have two night lights. Not because I'm afraid of the dark, but because if I need to get up in the middle of the night, I don't want to break my neck on the dozens of cat toys littering the path from the bed to the bathroom. Even walking around my apartment in daylight is life-threatening. There are stuff animals, wands, toy cars, rubber duckies, and the ever-present balls that jingle. There is even an arched bristle-brush scratching thing-a-bob that Raffi likes to muscle around the floor until it is directly in my walking path.

I am convinced that cats aren't truly happy unless they are putting your life in danger.

This weekend I bought my babies a new toy, and it has turned out to be the BEST toy ever. 1) they BOTH love it; 2) they actually play with it together; 3) it doesn't need batteries; and 4) it is SILENT. #4 is the best part! Do they still move it around so it's in my way? Why, yes of course. After all, no toy is fun unless Mommy might step on it and break her neck.

Anyway, this absolutely genius toy is called Cat 'n Mouse and retails for $12.99. And, I'm not kidding... it's QUIET as a mouse. All weekend, one or the other was going nuts with it. Tonight they even shared it, batting the mouse back and forth between themselves while I wrote. At one point, I stopped pounding the keyboard to watch them and I couldn't help but wonder, did my Mom feel this warm and fuzzy when my brother and I played well together?

Yes, I know. I'm a middled-aged woman who lives alone, calls her cats her babies, and refers to herself as "Mommy." Cut me some slack. I'm a writer. I'm entitled to be a little nuts.

Other weekend news:

Attended the monthly Southern California Mystery Writers of America meeting today and heard Gayle Lynds discuss her fabulous career with Melodie Johnson Howe.

Received galleys for the soon to be released Thugs and Kisses. It looks incredible!!

Caught 3 episodes of HBO's Five Days, which I love, and the second installment of The Amazing Mrs. Prichard on Masterpiece Theatre, also enjoyable.

And... completed 2 -1/2 chapters of Epitaph Envy. Only 65 more days till deadline!!!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. What am I doing watching TV and playing with the cats with only 65 days left?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Off Visiting Today

I will be the guest blogger today at A Writers Plot.

Please stop on by.

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Ode to Librarians

Fellow Midnight Inker, Tom Schreck, has posted his personal ode to librarians on the Inkspot Blog today. It shouldn't be missed.

If you have any librarian friends, make sure they see this!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Blogging -- A Not So Private Bitch Session

I am a big supporter of freedom of speech and I am a big fan of blogs. Yesterday, a blog was brought to my attention that drove me nuts and caused my blood to absolutely boil. It was written by someone in the publishing field and though it seemed aimed at one particular author (no, not me), it pretty much tore a new one into every author, especially new authors. Now I will always defend a person's right to express his or her opinion, but come on, folks, let's learn some boundaries!

This blogger made some very valid points about expectations and unreasonable behavior of new authors, yet it was couched in such a vulgar, infantile way it totally demeaned and diluted his position, to say nothing about pissing a lot of people off and hurting others.

About now, I'm sure you're all waiting for me to provide a link to this diatribe so you can see it for yourself. But I'm not going to. I refuse to give this obviously disturbed and angry individual any more of a platform than he has already received.

Blogging is a fun way to make a stand, distribute information and connect with people, but, like alcohol, it should be used responsibly. A blog may be an individual's personal soap box, but it is NOT private. It is in the public forum and the public eye.

This individual's public and irresponsible rant spilled out from his gut into the public arena, doing damage along the way beyond his limited expectations. I know that I, an author and another blogger, will never again give him or his words any value in the future. To quote a favorite phrase of a dear and now deceased friend of mine: He showed us his ass.

Or should that be: He showed us he is an ass?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire Season!

The Santa Ana winds have arrived in Southern California bringing with them high heat, hurricane force winds, sand paper skin, clogged sinuses, and even poorer air quality. But the biggest and most destructive side effect of the Santa Anas is FIRE. These seasonal hot dry winds parch everything in their path, turning the already dry terrain into a tinder box. One spark, careless cigarette butt, downed power line can mean the difference between home and homelessness, life and death.

Right now fires are ravaging across Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, stripping beautiful areas down to scorched earth and leaving structures in rubble and people without homes. It happens every year and every year we watch in horror and helplessness.

I live in the City of Los Angeles on a busy street surrounded by concrete and minimal vegetation. The fires have expensive tastes. They prefer the lovely and expensive canyon areas and upscale homes. But then, don't we all.

Whenever and wherever I travel, people ask me about California earthquakes. I don't mean to minimize the destruction of a very large earthquake, but they don't happen very often. The fires, however, are annual. People say California doesn't have seasons. Not true, fall is fire season.

I've e-mailed many friends this morning who live in this season's fire areas, hoping I get a response and knowledge that they are safe.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Our First Newsletter

Yesterday, I posted that Tim Maleeny and I were sending out 5,000 newsletters and some folks wrote and asked if they were getting one. If we already know who you are, probably not. We are sending these out to 5,000 potential new readers, aka strangers who we hope will not be strangers for long.

So, I'm posting the newsletter here. If you click on the page you want to read, it should open to full size. Enjoy!

By the way, the newsletter was designed by my manager, Diana James, who does PR for several authors.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coming to Your Mailbox Soon!

One of the most prominent things on the top of the worry list for authors is promotion. It's right up there with deadlines and plot structure and we discuss it amongst ourselves constantly. A lot of readers think an author simply writes the book and walks away after the publisher releases it. Not so! Promotional help varies from publisher to publisher and even from author to author within the same publishing house. Most publishers provide some, many provide very little. Most of the marketing and promoting of a book falls squarely on the shoulders of the authors themselves, including the investment of money and time.

If there is one thing I've learned from being a published author, it's to balance blatant self-promotion with some restraint and modesty. Bottom line, I have to promote my books, otherwise people won't know they're there, but I can't shove them down people's throats.

So, how does one become the next Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton? By hitting the road and meeting readers, attending conferences, and by talking non-stop about your books and why people should read them. It's speed dating for bookophiles.

Pal Tim Maleeny and I are hitting America's mailboxes this week with a 5,000 piece direct mailing. Both Tim and I are very good at getting out and promoting our books and both of us are published by Midnight Ink, so we joined forces to reach 5,000 new readers in the next few weeks. Sounds like a lot, right? But in the big picture, it's really just a drop in the bucket.

Still, the best way to promote a book is by word of mouth, by one reader telling another. Nothing can beat that!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

I'm still not feeling well from last weekend's bout with the flu. I did make it to my day job all this week and I did get in some good writing time on Epitaph Envy, but I'm far from 100% healthy. I slept 9 hours last night and woke up today with the intent of writing and then heading out to book signings for several friends. I did get in some writing this morning, but as for the other, let's just say I showered then decided the health of my friends was better served with me staying home. About 40 minutes ago I woke up from a 2+ hour nap -- this on top of a 9 hour night's sleep. When I sleep like that, I know I'm under the weather. However, it was a very useful snooze.

I dream a lot when I sleep and I have a knack for remembering most of my dreams. Most of the time they are just nutty scraps of events and people with roots in my daily life. Sometimes they are like watching full-length movies with plots, players, and special effects. Today during my nap, my brain was very active and I found myself in a theme-park that was only open on weekends because during the week it served as a law firm. The different departments of the law firm were housed in cute little separate buildings throughout the large park and we scooted from one to the other in golf cart type vehicles. You could only access the law firm through a special door in a parking garage that looked like an emergency exit.

What can I say? I'm still taking cold/flu medicine.

But what was really useful about today's nap was the end of my dream time, when my mind was resurfacing back to reality. It was during this just under the surface sleep that I saw scenes from Epitaph Envy play out, including the very last chapter. Yes, the entire whole last chapter, complete with characters, plots and dialogue. I already know the climax of the book and wrote that a long time ago, but this is the final chapter, what I call the clean-up or loose-ends chapter that ends the book on a polished note.

I can't tell you how the book ends. For that, you'll have to read it (Epitaph Envy will be out February 2009). But I can tell you the final few sentences: Steele winked at me. "Of course, a woman's involved."

Book events I missed today:

Kathryn Lilley's signing of Dying to be Thin. I also missed Kathryn's book launch party last Friday because of illness. Sorry, Kathryn!

Joanne Fluke and Laura Levine's launch party for Candy Cane Murder.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Think I'll Go Eat Worms

I found out yesterday afternoon that even though there was a lot of excitement at Fox about my books, they turned down the idea of making them into a TV series. Sigh. Josef Anderson, the veteran TV writer who holds the option on Too Big To Miss, and who has been working his heiny off trying to find a home for Odelia on the small screen, broke the news to me. But being the professional he is, he still has lots of options up his sleeve. Thank you, Josef!

Still ...

This is not the first time we've been so close to a TV nod on Odelia, and it won't be the last. The book biz is fraught with ups and downs and Hollywood biz is no different, if not more so. Both publishing and Hollywood is a life of almosts and maybes, of getting to the edge of an exciting breakthrough only to have cold water thrown in your face. "We love it, but it's not exactly what we're looking for" seems to be the standard catch-phrase for both. Maybe all the executives have it embroidered on throw pillows.

The news definitely brought me down, then I remembered ... I don't write for Hollywood. That's Josef's job. I write novels and published ones at that. So no matter what happens in LA LA Land, I still have a publisher expecting and buying my work and readers who are waiting to read the next book and the book after that.

Still ...

Any production companies, actresses, directors, studios out there looking for a not-so-young kick ass heroine with a quirky view of the world? Any of you looking for the next long-running, up-dated "Murder She Wrote?" Any one interested in thinking outside of the Hollywood young, hip, beautiful and boring box?

Let me know. I have Josef's number on speed dial.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

86 Days and Counting - Yikes!

When I woke up this morning, a stark reality hit me between my runny eyes and stuffy nose … there are only 86 days (aka 12 weeks and 2 days) until Epitaph Envy, the fourth Odelia Grey novel, is due to my publisher. I started the week feeling a bit under the weather and ended up with some gawd awful flu that kept me out of work a few days and away from writing the entire week. I’m still a yucky mess but today the plan is to work as much as I can between naps and hacking up a lung. Don’t these germs know I have a deadline to keep?

So, where am I in the manuscript? A lot further along than I was last year at this time with Thugs and Kisses, so that’s progress. Still, I’m starting to feel the crunch, and that translates into kicking other things aside, like some social events and leisure time. I only have 2-3 book events in the next few months and will not be adding any more.

My self-imposed goal is to have the entire manuscript done by Thanksgiving and turn the final and proof-read manuscript into my editor by the time I leave on my birthday cruise on December 21st, a whole 10 days early. It’ll be tight, but goals like this seem to fire me up.

Another reality is the looming deadline of August 1, 2008 for The Ghost of Granny Apples. I’ve never had to do a book every six months before, so this will be a great test of my organization and sheer will. I already have a couple of chapters completed for Granny Apples and will be adding to it while I complete Epitaph Envy.

So, please excuse me while I take another dose of drugs and hit the keyboard.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Odelia Grey Lends a Hand to Toys for Tots!

Ho Ho Homicide, an Odelia Grey short story, can be found in the recently released Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters, an anthology of holiday-themed short stories.

But wait, there's more! All profits from Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters will be donated by Wolfmont Publishing to Toys for Tots! That's right! Fifteen authors donated their time and talent so that the sales of this anthology could benefit children during the 2007 holiday season.

This anthology is the perfect gift for the crime fiction lovers on your list, and with each copy you purchase know that you are helping to make children smile, and that's a feeling even the Grinch couldn't pass up.

Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters can be purchased from or directly from Wolfmont Publishing. And remember, every book sold translates into a toy for a tot.

Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters is a deliciously wicked book unlike any other you’re likely to see on the Christmas aisles this year ... - p.m.terrell, critically acclaimed author of RICOCHET, THE CHINA CONSPIRACY and KICKBACK

The anthology is a terrific collection of tales of heists, scams, and killings that cover a wide range of emotions from poignant to terrifying, hilarious to surprising from some of the most talented crime fiction writers of today. You’ve never seen the holiday season skewered so viciously and with so much fun, and it’s all for a good cause since the anthology benefits Toys for Tots.--
Beth Groundwater, author of A REAL BASKET CASE

A wide range of holiday treats to enjoy year-round. From Chris Grabenstein's decoration-obsessed Dad, reminiscent of the best of Jean Shepherd, to Margaret Fenton's anti-Christmas thief, this is a delightful collection for all types of mystery fans. --
Mary Saums, author of THISTLE & TWIGG

A fantastic lineup of stories—from short to long, from lighthearted to gritty, these holiday tales will keep you awake until long after Santa shows up. If your Christmas list includes a mystery reader, this book makes a great gift! --
John Floyd, award-winning author of Rainbow’s End

Monday, October 01, 2007

Simon Sez... I won!

Just found out that this past weekend at Bouchercon '07, friend and fellow SinC/LA'er Simon Wood took home an Anthony for best short story for "My Father's Secret."

Way to go, Simon!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

A Win for Tim Maleeny!

Pal and fellow Midnight Ink author, Tim Maleeny, brought home a Macavity Award Friday night for his short story "Till Death Do Us Part." You can read this award-winning short story in the anthology Death Do Us Part: New Stories about Love, Lust, and Murder, edited by Harlan Coben. The Macavity Award is awarded each year in various categories by Mystery Readers International.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Meet Me At the Fair

The 6th Annual West Hollywood Book Fair is this Sunday, September 30th, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., at the West Hollywood Park, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd.

If you're at the Fair stop by and say hello. From 11-12 I'll be signing books at the Sisters In Crime/Los Angeles booth and from 1:30-2:30 I'll be at the mystery pavilion moderating a panel entitled Murder Most Cozy: Crime on the Lighter Side with fellow authors Joanne Fluke, Linda O. Johnston, Susan Kandel and Linda Palmer.

The West Hollywood Book Fair has activities for the whole family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My Dinner With Naomi

I had the best time last night. Naomi Hirahara and I chowed down at Versailles, the cuban restaurant (this was a rescheduled dinner from an earlier date).

There is nothing quite like two mystery authors getting together and yakking about books done, book in progress, books to come, book marketing, book sales, book promotion ... you get the picture.

Naomi is on fire right now with an Edgar win earlier this year for her novel Snakeskin Shamisen (and an Anthony nomination), a short story in the popular Los Angeles Noir anthology, and an online serial called The Nihongo Papers (a biotech paranormal thriller, which is fabulous). In addition, she has a middle school novel coming out next August entitled 1001 Cranes.

Naomi Hirahara is someone to watch!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Night With the Bard

Odelia and I took a break from working on Epitaph Envy last night to see Twelfth Night at Circus Theatricals. My friend Joe Bays plays Fabian in the production.

I love live theatre and really enjoy the shows at this tiny venue tucked on a side street just off Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. Parking is easy, the tickets affordable and the productions creative. And the size of the theatre really gives a sense of intimacy between the players and the audience.

And, as always, the Bard's humor is timeless.

You can catch this production of Twelfth Night any Friday or Saturday night through October 20th.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Turning Lemons Into Womenade

Felicia Donovan, my friend and fellow Midnight Ink author, has a new book coming out, and like all authors is going through the angst of early reviews. Almost all of the major reviews of Felicia's The Black Widow Agency have been highly favorable ... that is, until her review in Kirkus. For those of you not in the know, Kirkus is one of the review entities that can make or break a book. It's right up there with Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. So when Kirkus called The Black Widow Agency a "bitch-a-thon," Felicia wasn't about to take it like a wimp with a broken nail.

Instead of bitching, Felicia is standing firm with a Bitch-A-Thon Campaign. For every copy of The Black Widow Agency purchased between October 1, 2007 and October 1, 2008, Felicia is personally pledging to donate a portion of the profits to her local chapter of Womenade.

You can read Felicia's entertaining rant about the Kirkus review today at Inkspot.

I'm marking my calendar for October 1st and lining up to purchase The Black Widow Agency.

You go, girl!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Will the Potential Murderer Please Stand Up

I found this little gem on Christa Faust's blog this morning. It's a quiz to see if you could get away with murder: Would You Get Away With Murder? Potential psychopaths that we are, both Christa and I were given no jail time, which gave me hope as I pursue a career in plotting murder mysteries.

Speaking of plotting murder mysteries, went to see pal Tim Maleeny speak last night at the Rancho Park Library. I'm waiting rather impatiently for his 2nd book to come out - Beating the Babushka. I just loved his Stealing the Dragon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Me? Famous?

I don't know how famous I am, but if you want the inside scoop on how I and many other of today's authors ran the gauntlet to become published, check out the recently released How I Got Published: Famous Authors Tell You in Their Own Words. Compiled and edited by Ray White and Duane Lindsay and published by Writers Digest, How I Got Published is insightful, as well as entertaining, and a must read for any budding writer.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Birthday Book Boat

Forget the Love Boat, come sail with me on the Birthday Book Boat!

Friday, December 21, 2007, is my 55th birthday, and to celebrate I’m taking a weekend cruise with my good friend Susan aboard Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas. The cruise leaves Los Angeles and travels to Ensenada, Mexico and back. I can’t wait!

But here’s the really fun part. Royal Caribbean is giving me time on Sunday, December 23rd, to talk to passengers about books and mysteries. My birthday and I get to talk about books -- now that's what I call a celebration!

If any of you mystery fans are thinking about taking a short cruise before the end of the year, consider this one. Not only am I planning a fun talk and will have books available for sale, but attendees will have an opportunity to win door prizes.

When you get there, look for me. I'll be the one with the green face holding a piƱa colada and humming the Love Boat theme while waiting for the Dramamine to kick in.