Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Bags Are Packed (Well, Almost)

Tomorrow night, along with my assortment of 3 oz liquids and gels in a baggie, I hit the friendly (?) skies once more. This time it's to New England for a combo vacation/book tour/research/family wedding trip. Looking at my schedule, I'm tired already, but it should be fun.

On the agenda is: Mike's Maze, various breakfasts, lunches and dinners with friends, family, readers and other writers, 5 scheduled book signings and various unscheduled drive-bys to book stores. Here are a few of the dates and places I'll be. If you're in the area, please stop by and say hi.

September 1st - 4-6 pm - Barnes and Noble, 1741 S Willow St., Manchester NH 03103

September 3rd - 11 a.m or so through the early afternoon - Mike's Maze. No, it's not a book signing. I'll be researching the corn maze for a future Odelia Grey novel, but come on by and have some fun!

September 4th - 2:30-3:30 pm- Borders, 285 Plainfield Road, #2, West Lebanon, NH

September 6th - 7-9 pm - Barnes and Noble, The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley, 70 Worcester Providence Turnpike #5Millbury, MA 01527

September 7th - 5-7 pm - Barnes and Noble, 270 Hartford Ave., Bellingham MA 02019

September 8th - 1-3 pm - Barnes and Noble, 541-D Lincoln St., Worcester MA 01605

During most of this time I'll be Internet deprived (Yikes!), but I promise a full report as soon as I can.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Here's to You, Ish

A week ago a very dear lady passed away. Her name was Ish Reynolds and she always referred to herself as my #1 fan. Ish was the grandmother of my friend Stacy, one of my colleagues at the law firm, and it was her granddaughter who introduced her to my books. She always claimed her two favorite writers were Harley Jane Kozak and moi. Since Harley is a personal friend, it made it all the sweeter.

Ish was so devoted to my books that she got on a plane in Oakland and flew down to Los Angeles for the launch of The Curse of the Holy Pail. She was 80 at the time and needed a walker. At the launch, my friends buzzed around her and made sure she had everything she needed. With her quick wit and endearing sense of humor, she was quickly holding court in the middle of The Mystery Book Store. It was her first and only book launch. She was planning on coming down for the launch of Thugs and Kisses in February of 2008, but liver cancer claimed her faster than the calendar moved.

If anyone doubts that writers remember and cherish their readers, think again. Many of you become very dear to us and you are all important. Without you, Odelia Grey would not exist except in a dusty drawer and my life would be lacking in the joy I receive from knowing I bring smiles to people's faces.

Ish Reynolds will not be forgotten. Look for her name as one of the main characters in my upcoming The Ghost of Granny Apples due out September 2009.

(Note: I stumbled upon the above book cover for Ish by children's author Peter Reynolds this morning. I don't think they are related, but found the coincidence too lovely to pass on. Ish would have loved knowing there was a book out there with her name on it.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


How Well Did You Follow the Trail to the Pail?

Test your memory and you could win a signed copy of the upcoming Thugs and Kisses (along with other goodies).

Enter the How Well Did You Follow the Trail to the Pail? contest, which runs from now until December 31, 2007, by answering questions about The Curse of the Holy Pail. Details are on the Contests page of my web site.

There will be 3 lucky winners.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tickle Your Funny Bone on Saturday

Saturday, August 25th, at 2:00 p.m., I will be at the Culver City June Dixon Library with two very funny authors, Bill Fitzhugh and Laura Levine. The panel is entitled "Summer Deadly Reads" but really should be called "Laughing Yourself to Death." The panel will be moderated by the equally entertaining A. H. Ream.

If you have never read or seen either Bill or Laura, you're missing out. They are two of the funniest people and writers I know.

Culver City June Dixon Library
4975 Overland Ave.
Culver City, CA 90230-4299
Phone: (310) 559-1676

The Culver City Library is in my hood, so come early and have brunch at one of my favorite places just up the street from the library, The Overland Cafe. But be warned, sometimes there's a wait for brunch... it's that good. Try the crabcakes benedict.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Taking Time to Smell the Roses

Considering my writing and day job commitments, it’s no surprise that one of the questions I get asked a lot is: “Do you ever have time for fun?”

Absolutely! Even with my tight writing schedule, which now includes writing two series, I make time to get out and have fun. Sometimes I combine the fun with the business of writing and sometimes I combine it with research, and sometimes I just stop the writing machine, say “Time Out!” and go play. If I didn’t, I’d go mad.

This past Saturday I met my friend Miles Holliman for breakfast at Harbor House CafĂ© at Sunset Beach. Miles and I met years ago when we both worked for the same company and he’s a very interesting and fun guy. I also had to do some reconnaissance work in Seal Beach about 2 miles away from the restaurant for the book I’m currently working on, so it was a combo trip, but most of my time with Miles was just about catching up with the trials, tribulations and joys of our lives.

After breakfast, Miles rode shotgun and jotted notes down for me about the area (which he knew well). For some time, we methodically drove up and down the streets of Seal Beach taking notes on houses, streets, buildings of note, etc. After, we parked on Main Street and strolled down to Bogart’s across from the beach for coffee and more chat.

Tonight, I’m meeting my good friend and Edgar winner, Naomi Hirahara, for dinner at Versailles, followed by an hour of watching Weeds and Californication.

So, no fear, this girl knows how to stop and smell the roses. Life is far too short to just write and bathe cats.

P.S.: Two weeks, and counting, until vacation

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Something I Won't Be Doing Again Any Time Soon

This is my cat B (short for Bianca). To the right is B's normal pose in the dead heat of summer, on her back on the linoleum, all 4 paws up in the air, trying to keep cool.

Today, like the stupid pet owner that I am, I gave B a b-a-t-h. And since it's nearly 90 in my apartment, it seemed like the perfect time. It was the first I had ever given her and it just well might be her last home bath. It was traumatic for both of us, and for my other cat, Raffi, who stood by nervously listening to her pathetic yowls, my swearing, and the splash of water.

My friend Patti sums up B's appearance quite accurately when she says "it's as if someone took a bag of fur and stuffed a cat into the middle of it." B has enough hair to make 3 cats and two kittens. I try to brush and comb her regularly, and she's semi-patient when I have to cut or clip out big clumpy mats. (I'm convinced she rolls around in Elmer's glue when I'm not home.) But even with regular brushing, she's a mess. So I bought some cat shampoo and got to work.

One thing I'm eternally grateful for is that B has a very sweet and forgiving temperament. She never once tried to bite or claw me. She didn't even hiss. Had I tried this with my other cat, I would be typing with stumps and my face would be covered with rows of scratches resembling an evenly plowed corn field. But the noise! Normally, B has this very ladylike squeak of a meow. Today she emitted belly-deep, heart wrenching yowls that I'm sure the people in the sushi shop on the corner heard. I half expect the ASPCA to come knocking on my door any minute.

But the bath got done and B was partially toweled off before she made her escape to hide soaking wet under my bed. Yes, a wet cat is under my bed. Oh, joy!

But she's a clean cat... and I finally found out that under all that fur, B is just a normal size cat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shiver Me Timbers!

Set your sail for Inkspot today where I'm discussing my view of the writer's life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Speaking of Pigs ...

Last night I was happier than a pig in a mud puddle. For 2 hours I wallowed in the great void known as TV. I love TV. I would watch TV 24/7 if I parked my sensibilities at the curb and took a taxi to the land of wasting time. Because of my hard core writing schedule, I limit myself to just a few hours a week. I choose my TV watching carefully and often schedule meals and household chores around specific shows so the time does double duty. I adore On Demand but have been a hold out on Tivo.

The third season of Weeds premiered last night causing the moon and stars to align in my little TV watching world. I've been waiting all summer for this quirky, hilarious show to return. And it did not disappoint. There was no way I was going to wait and watch it through On Demand. I wanted to be front and center on my sofa when year 3 was launched.

So what did I do with the remaining 90 minutes of my 2 hours of visual playtime? At 9 p.m. I caught the latest episode of Big Love on HBO, another fav, and after Weeds caught the Showtime series premiere of Californication, destined to be another personal favorite and a hit for Showtime. Hey, how can it miss? It's about a writer with writer's block.

Next scheduled TV playdate: Wednesday night, 10:00 p.m., Bravo, Top Chef.

Yes, I did write yesterday. I put in a full 2 hours, as always. Because no matter how much I love TV, I love my writing more.

Friday, August 10, 2007

A Pig and a Poke

Lee Lofland, who's new book I pimped below, is the guest blogger on Lipstick Chronicles today. Do not miss this!!! I'm telling ya ... do not miss this blog entry! It might very well be the funniest blog this month, and it's only the 10th.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mystery Writing Tips from a Few of My Friends

Take it from me, there is a lot more to writing mysteries than just plunking your butt down in front of a computer and pounding away at the keyboard about death and the quest for justice. Maybe you're just getting started and need inspiration. Maybe you need to know where to start. Or maybe you're lost about the science of blood, death and police procedure. It doesn't matter what sub-genre you're writing in, you need to have the tools to get the job done. Here are some great books for those of you wanting to write and research mysteries.

Top Left is Don't Murder Your Mystery by Chris Roerden, a charming woman with a knack for getting murder right. Don't Murder your Mystery has won the Agatha award and is nominated for both the Macavity and Anthony awards.

Police Procedure & Investigation is brand-spanking new from Lee Lofland and is selling like hotcakes. Lee spent two decades in law enforcement, including a number of years as a detective.

D.P. Lyle, M.D. has more helpful books out than you can shake a scalpel at, including the award-winning Forensics for Dummies. New out by Dr. Lyle are Forensics and Fiction and Forensic Science for Writers.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The PMC is a Family Affair

I've written several times on this blog about the Pan-Mass Challenge. For you newbies, the PMC is the nation's most successful charity bike ride with 99 cents of every dollar going directly to the Jimmy Fund for cancer research.

As a family, the PMC is very personal. My nephew Tom has ridden in it for several years, even before he was diagnosed and successfully treated for testicular cancer. We are deeply thankful to the PMC and the photos here showing my niece Lindsay and my other nephew Derek holding signs that say "Because of you my brother is living proof" says it all for each one of us.

The 2007 PMC is happening right now, as I write this. The photos you see here today are hot off the press from Lindsay, and you can see more photos and read about today's events at the blog maintained by Lindsay and her hubby Eric.

It's not too late to still give to this very worthy event. You can donate right online.

Because of you, my nephew is Living Proof.

Thank you.

(photos: top-Tom; middle - Lindsay; bottom-Derek)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Raffel Makes It to the Small Screen

My buddy and fellow Midnight Ink author, Keith Raffel, visited Google in Mountainview, CA recently as part of their Authors@Google program. He spoke to their employees about his book, Dot Dead, and the writing life. All us non-Googlers can view the event at You Tube. Check it out, it's pretty cool.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Snakes Fetches the Scribe for Christa

My friend Christa Faust just won a Scribe Award, given for excellence in media tie-in writing, for her novelization of Snakes on a Plane. Big Congrats, Christa.

While visiting Christa's Blog this morning, I noticed something fun. Christa's next novel, Money Shot, is due to be released from Hard Case in February 2008. My next novel, Thugs and Kisses, is scheduled for release from Midnight Ink also in February 2008. Both feature naked women on the cover.

I consider myself in the best of company.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

No Rest for the Weary

Doing my blogging chores over at Inkspot today.

Take a break and drop on by.