Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Just a Day at the Gym

Tom Schreck, author of On the Ropes, wrote a beautiful post today at Inkspot about a normal Saturday at a boxing gym.

Whether you're a fan of the sport or not, it's well worth checking out.

And check out Tom's book. On The Ropes was one of my favorite recent reads.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Buy It For the Articles

My pal Christa Faust is in the current issue of Penthouse Magazine. No, she doesn't have a staple through her tummy, though I truly think she'd enjoy that. Christa was interviewed by the magazine about her new novel, Money Shot. Look closely and you'll even see Christa's name on the cover!

I'm currently reading Money Shot and it's a great gritty adventure!

On other fronts, I spent 4 hours on Saturday doing drive-bys. Not the shooting kind, but the signing books kind. Using my portable GPS, I navigated my way south along the 405 and hit every single Barnes and Noble and Borders from my house to Torrance. All but one store had my books and the one store that didn't had just sold out. Yea!

Weigh in today - I've lost another 2 lbs for a total of 17!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It Pays to Review the Evidence

This past week Reviewing the Evidence had a drawing for three copies of THUGS AND KISSES. The winners are:

Sandy Olubas of Milford, OH
Karen Hansen of Sloatsburg, NY
Michael Woods of Utica, NY

Hang on folks, the books are on their way!

Every week, Reviewing the Evidence gives away three new and different books. To enter, check out their website.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Surpised and Shocked ... But In a Good Way

Thugs and Kisses, the third book in my Odelia Grey mystery series was released just a couple of weeks ago. And I mean just a couple of weeks ago. So imagine my shock and surprise when I received an e-mail from Becky Zins, my production editor from Midnight Ink, telling me the book was about to go into a 2nd printing! Yes, a 2nd printing. Seems they've just about run out of the 6,000+ copies they had initially printed.

And I've hardly begun my promotional push!

Both Too Big To Miss and The Curse of the Holy Pail went to 2nd printings, but not this quickly. This is like the speed of light.

Thank you, everyone, who helped make this wonderful news a reality!

On another front, Barbara Moore, my editor at Midnight Ink, e-mailed me shortly after with the editorial committee's requested changes for Epitaph Envy, the 4th book in the series, due out in one year. There weren't very many changes, which is grand since I'm on a tight schedule to work on The Ghost of Granny Apples.

Also, another country was heard from. My agent, Whitney Lee, sent me her suggested revisions for God's Apology, the non-mystery novel I recently finished. Her suggestions were fabulous and will greatly improve the manuscript. I just have to squeeze it in between the other books I'm working on. Oh, yes, and the day job.

Advice to all budding writers: Never underestimate the suggestions of a good editor or agent. They see things in your work you are too close to the product to see. Always consider their recommendations and, in most cases, adopt them. It can be the difference between a good book and a great book.

Guess I'd better get to work!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Flu Be Gone!

It's back to work today after being off ill since Wednesday. I had so many plans for this past long weekend, lots of writing, organizing the apartment, etc., all of which went by the wayside to tend to this flu bug. I'm feeling much better, but still very tired. But heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go!

Yesterday, along with about 24 other women at the Biggest Loser Club, I started a 30 day weight challenge called the Blarney Challenge. Basicially the challenges are contests for a set length of time to see who can lose the most weight in a month. We take turns hosting it and this month it's my turn. I've offered the prize of the winner's name as a character in one of my next books. I've been futzing around with my diet for the past 2 weeks, not paying much attention to it since the launch of Thugs and Kisses. I gained a bit after Seattle but then the flu took care of the gain. Nothing like being sick for losing weight. Anyway, yesterday when I weighed in for the challenge, I was exactly where I was 2 weeks ago - still with my 15 lb loss. I'm shooting for at least another 10 lbs during this challenge, which ends March 17th.

Worked a bit on Granny Apples this weekend, but it's so difficult to write when your head is stuffed and foggy. I'm sooooooo looking forward to getting back on schedule again. Had a couple of long and encouraging phone conversations with fellow authors this weekend. It's always nice to connect and support each other in this madness.

Special shout out to friend and fellow author Margaret Fenton who e-mailed me to announce she'd just landed a 2-book deal with Oceanview Publishing! Way to go, Margaret!!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ghost Stories

As most of you know, I’ve embarked upon the writing of The Ghost of Granny Apples, the first book in my new Granny Apples mystery series due out in September 2009. Recently, I decided it would help to read other “ghost” novels to see how the authors handled the appearance and disappearance of the ghosts, as well as other details. Can they be seen by others or only by the protagonist? Can they be felt physically, or passed through like fog? Can they move solid objects or hide them beneath their clothing? Although I had pretty well decided what Granny Apples could and could not do as a spirit, this inquiring mind wanted to know how others had set it to paper.

I started out by reading Topper, the 1926 novel by Thorne Smith which spawned several movies and a delightful 1950’s TV series, which I adored in reruns as a kid. Once I got used to the language and mannerisms of the twenties, I found the book delightful, as well as thoughtful and quite cutting in its humor, and not nearly as polite and kind as the TV Topper.

That was followed by The Remains of the Dead by Wendy Roberts, which was recommended to me by the good folks at the Seattle Mystery Book Shop. I found Roberts’ book fascinating, but not for the treatment of the ghosts in the book. Roberts’ protagonist, Sadie Novak, is a crime scene cleaner who specializes in violent and unattended deaths. Having heard a real crime scene cleaner speak not too long ago, complete with color slides, I wasn’t put off by the detailed descriptions of Sadie’s work and enjoyed the book a great deal. I highly recommend The Remains of the Dead.

I just started reading The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly, given to me by friend Sybil Johnson. It looks like a fun read. In between these books, I’ve also watched a couple of movies with ghost action.

This past week I was laid low by the very nasty virus cutting a swath through our law firm. I’ve been out of work since Wednesday and only today started feeling somewhat human. Being so sick definitely cuts into my valuable writing time, but at least I was able to catch up on my ghost stories.

Special shout out to Tonia (aka yoyome60) in Texas who beat my butt but good in online backgammon Saturday night, but she did it in such a nice, sweet way.

And for those of you checking my weigh ins, I’ve changed my weigh in day to Mondays to coincide with a Biggest Loser Club challenge. I’ll see you and the scale on Monday morning.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day Massacre

Today is St. Valentine’s Day, a day of celebrating love and friendship. But for the people who lost loved ones today at Northern Illinois University, it will forever be a black day full of horror and death.

My heart goes out to the people hurt and traumatized by today’s events, and to those grieving the loss of loved ones who will never see another February 14th.

Education should not come at such a high price and classes should not be attended with thoughts of fear and death. Young people should be safe in the schools of this country whether it be an Amish one-room school house, an inner city middle school, a suburban high school, or a major university.

Do you feel as helpless and outraged as I do today?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In The Black Widows' Web

Check out The Black Widow Agency blog for an interview between the Black Widows and Odelia Grey.

I just finished reading The Black Widow Agency. It's a fun romp of revenge and justice.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Chronicling a Naked Lady Quickie

Relaxing in the Rain - The Seattle cold and rain didn't dampen our spirits one bit as Christa Faust and I landed in the lovely city of Seattle on Friday 2 hours late. After she dropped me off at my hotel, she proceed to Gig Habor to visit her grandmother, whose birthday is today. (Happy Birthday Christa's Grandma!). I spent the evening relaxing and getting ready for our quickie book tour by ordering room service and watching the movie Juno, which I highly recommend, followed by finishing Black Widow Agency by Felicia Donovan.

Our Boy Marcus - On Saturday morning, Christa picked me up and we headed to the Seattle Mystery Book Shop to continue our Naked Lady Tour. There we teamed up with honorary Naked Lady Marcus Sakey (gotta love that curly hair!) for a book signing. If you ever find yourself in Seattle, do not miss dropping by this charming and wonderful bookstore filled with the best the mystery community has to offer in books and knowledgeable and fun people. And check out their blog where each guest author gets to write something to commemorate their experience. This store is a must and should be featured on Seattle's tourist pamphlets.

Pimping Christa - After, Christa and I hopped into our rental car and dashed to the Barnes and Noble in Woodinville where we took part in a Local Authors Gala and were the only non-local authors present. It was a very mixed bag of authors and books and we followed a pet psychic on the bill. (No, I'm not kidding.) The pet psychic had a pretty full audience for her presentation, but when Christa and I stepped up, the folks scattered like we had a disease, leaving us with rows of empty chairs. We stood around for a few minutes before I observed many men in the store shyly ogling Christa in her skin tight vintage vamp outfit and suede high heeled sandals (yes, in the rain). Sensing an opportunity, I told Christa to start reading from her book, which she did, carefully editing the non-PG parts. Soon we had an audience (ok, mostly men) and went forward with our Naked Lady presentation, followed by a book signing. From there we headed to the Barnes and Noble at University Village. Here we were just scheduled to sign stock. It was a shame this stop was so quick because this huge multi-level B&N was teaming with people on an early Saturday night. Next time I'm in Seattle, I want to make sure it's on my signing schedule.

Hoisting a Few - Our signing duties done for Saturday, we headed back downtown to the Zig Zag Cafe to meet up with the fabulous Vince and Rosemarie Keenan, Marcus, and Kim from the Seattle Mystery Book Shop for early drinks. The Zig Zag is a great bar and I mean GREAT. Definitely another not-to-be-missed Seattle establishment. I was drinking Irish Coffees (what else on a cold and rainy night? and no, I did NOT count my Weight Watcher points!) and the coffee was freshly pressed for each drink. The conversation was lively and eclectic and we all agreed to sign releases that none of it would be uttered once we left the Zig Zag. Christa doesn't drink, but that doesn't inhibit her one bit. Geez, I wonder what she'd be like with a bit of sauce in her?! It's almost scarey to think about. After Marcus and Kim left, Vince, Rosemarie, Christa and I tightened our ranks and more releases were signed. My deepest regret is that I didn't get a photo of Vince and Rosemarie to commemorate the evening. Back at my hotel, I curled up with a book and read for another 2 hours.

The Last Hurrah - Sunday, Christa and I headed to our last signing at the Barnes and Noble in Tukwila. The store greeted us warmly and we had a very successful joint signing, selling lots of copies of both Money Shot and Thugs and Kisses. After chowing down on some tasty Thai food, Christa dropped me off at the airport. I was able to catch an earlier flight home and was happy to sleep in my own bed surrounded by my kitties.

Now it's back to the day job and my tight writing schedule. I didn't get much writing done while on this road trip, but I had FUN and read 2 books and half of another.

Top - The Naked Ladies, plus 1
2nd - With the crew of the FABULOUS Seattle Mystery Book Shop
3rd - Christa vamping at the Woodinville Barnes and Noble
4th - Hoisting a few with Marcus Sakey.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hitting the Spot - Inkspot

Today I'm doing my blogging duties over at the Inkspot. Come on over and say hello.

It's also weigh in day - week 5. This week I lost 1 lb for a total of 15 lbs so far (15% to goal). This has been a challenging couple of weeks, but I added more exercise to counter the cake, alcohol and other goodies I've been enjoying at social events.

I'm hitting the book trail this weekend and packing low-fat snack bars to keep me honest. I will be in Seattle, starting off at the Seattle Mystery Book Shop on Saturday at noon with Christa Faust and Marcus Sakey. Christa and I are planning on making Marcus an honorary Naked Lady. From there we have two Barnes and Noble stops. You can find details on those at my website Calendar.

Our Own Super Tuesday

Last night I was on a panel about publishing at the Redondo Beach Library with Morgan St. James, Christa Faust, and Michael Mallory. The panel was moderated by A. H. Ream. We had a great turnout and it was a fun and lively panel with high audience participation.

Thanks to Morgan St. James for providing these great photo shopped photos! And to Kimberly Bishop, Redondo Beach librarian, for having us!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Naked They Came

This weekend was the Naked Ladies Launch celebrating the two-fisted double launch of my Thugs and Kisses and Christa Faust's Money Shot. Saturday night we kicked the books off with a launch party at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. It was a great turn out and a fun time and the festivities lasted way past the designated hour. Christa and I spoke about why we were launching our books together -- one of the reasons being to show that both noir and soft-boiled mysteries can be enjoyed by all and contain many of the same themes. And we were happy to see many of our individual readers buying both books and looking forward to exploring something new.

At one point, Christa took the "Naked Ladies" theme to heart. She turned around and unzipped her sexy leopard print dress and pulled down the back to show many of the launch goers her incredible full back tatoo. Me, I got no stinkin' tatoos, though my getting one was discussed after a couple glasses of wine.

Now, don't you wish you had gone to the party?!

Sunday, the two of us were the featured readers at the SinC/LA meeting in South Pasadena. Here we shook things up by reading each other's work instead of our own. The outcome was interesting and often hilarious. I can tell you, my Odelia Grey character never sounded so tough and Christa's porn star Angel Dare never sounded so sweet and repentant. The guest speaker was security expert Ben Malisow, who himself is no slouch in the humor department. As part of his presentation, Ben ran a "game show" with Christa and me heading up teams. Of course, Christa's answer to almost every question was "blow job" and I was annoyed because she yelled it out first. But in the end, Team Odelia Grey was victorious over Team Angel Dare. But only because I was wearing Crocs and Christa was wearing 6" hooker heels and couldn't run up to the front with the answers ahead of me.

Now it's back to the grind of juggling the day job and writing.

I gotta get me some hooker heels! My team may have won, but Christa looked better running.

Top - The "Naked Ladies" of Mystery
Middle - Christa and Bobby of The Mystery Book Store
Bottom - Me with my agent, Whitney Lee (l) and manager, Diana James (r)