Friday, April 29, 2011


I'm at the Malice Domestic Convention in Bethesda, Maryland.

Hope you had a great week and your weekend is perfect. See you next week. Hopefully, I'll be able to tell you my ghost story that wasn't supposed to be a ghost story ghost story.

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 22, 2011

That Reminds Me

Lately, I've been having spontaneous memories of a family vacation we took in 2007. It was one of those "back east" trips, which is the way Utahns describe any place east of the Mississippi. We spent a couple days at Rehoboth Beach, we saw a Mets game and a Broadway show in NYC, and we saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. We were in NYC when a tornado hit Manhattan. I still have the TWISTER! headline I cut out of a local paper.

It was a really terrific vacation, don't get me wrong, but I think it's weird that these memories have been randomly popping into my mind. Earlier this week I realized that maybe they aren't so random.

You know how sometimes a scent can take you back to a moment in your life? To this day, a whiff of Chanel Coco perfume (I haven't smelled it in a long time) will take me back to my childhood and my grandmother's house. It was the only perfume she wore. I love that connection to the past.

Well, it seems that I do the same thing with books. The book I took with me on that vacation was WATER FOR ELEPHANTS. I read it on the beach and in hotel rooms. Chances are pretty good that I pulled it out when we rode the train out to the Mets game or traveled to Philadelphia. I probably didn't spend long stretches reading, but here and there and in between other things. That book was part of the entire trip. Yesterday, I realized that every time I see an advertisement (they're everywhere!) for the upcoming movie version of the book, a flash of that wonderful vacation pops into my mind.

I don't think my book-induced memories spring up with every book I've read. Something else had to have been happening - a vacation or some other "different than normal" situation. My son and I picked up the last Harry Potter book on a Laura Ingalls Wilder road trip I forced him to take with me. Now, the Little House books are tied in my mind to the Harry Potter books. Weird maybe, but appealing to me.

Really, what a great way to remember special moments - by tying memorable moments to books you've read.

And speaking of books - great books, in fact:

I read Laura Hillenbrand's UNBROKEN on the cruise my husband and I recently took. What an amazing story - heartbreaking, hopeful, shocking, sad, uplifting. Check it out if you haven't yet. I suppose that every time I see an advertisement for a cruise line, now UNBROKEN will come to my mind. I love that.

Happy Reading!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Man, Did I Suck

We have some really amazing independent bookstores in Salt Lake City, one of which is The King's English. I know that throughout the country independent bookstores are struggling, but my sense of it is that the SLC area stores are doing okay. I hope so. I'm an equal-opportunity book buyer. I buy books everywhere.

The King's English (TKE) is really terrific to local authors. I had my big FRUIT OF ALL EVIL kick-off event at TKE, and the booksellers were (still are) wonderful.

Here's the thing, though: *I* wasn't amazing. At all. In fact, I kind of sucked. As I looked out at the good-sized crowd who'd come to the signing, I got unbelieveably nervous. That has never happened to me before. I'm not shy. When I was younger, I was kind of a ham. I really don't have much difficulty talking to groups. I used to lead large meetings, and I was always able to make people laugh and relax. I've never been so overcome by nervousness than I was that night. I tried to tell myself to relax and slow down, but I know I didn't. As I read from the book, the only thing I could think about was the sheen of sweat that was building on my face - yes, on my face. How horrifying.

Anyway, I made it through and vowed to be better if I ever did anything like it again.

I've been to a few signings but really not many, and only one of the authors spoke before they signed. She was brief - spectacular, but brief. After my signing, I told myself I would go to every signing in town just so I could learn how to be better. At the time I made this deal with myself, I had no idea Rita Mae Brown would be visiting SLC, but I was thrilled when I found out. She was here Tuesday night.

Together, Ms. Brown and her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, write mysteries. Cats and mysteries go together like - well, it might be better to say that peanut butter and jelly go together like cats and mysteries. There's a big market for these types of books. I haven't read everything she's written, but I'm definitely a fan of Ms. Brown's. I went to her signing just to see and meet her. I didn't care if I learned anything.

And, I learned more from Rita Mae Brown than I have from any author. She was stunning - intelligent, funny, irreverent, confident, kind, and so happy to be there. She talked politics, history and animals for almost an hour. She is passionate (in a friendly, connecting way) about every word that comes out of her mouth, even if some of those words don't have anything to do with her books. I simply loved her. I'd like to be just like her when I grow up. Hopefully, I'll do a better job the next time around. If I do, most of the credit will go to Ms. Brown. Thank you.

After mentioning Casey Daniels last week, I dove into her newest, A HARD DAY'S FRIGHT. Loved it. She's "got" me, though. Somewhere along the way, she hooked me and I'm not letting go. The ending literally put me in a panic (yes, I take these things seriously) but it all worked out. Can't wait for the next one.

Also, after last week, I finally read a book I've had for a couple months. Heather Webber commented on the blog last week; this reminded me that I hadn't yet read her February release, ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY. I have no idea why it took so long for me to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books of the series. And, I loved this one too. Heather is really gifted at creating characters. She'll be debuting a new series in January. She'll be Heather Blake for that one. I have been fortunate to get to "know" Heather, but cross my heart, I wouldn't mention her books if I didn't think they were terrific.

Hope you have a great week.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Sprinter and a Forgotten Book

I have watched and read way too much news this week. Every time I do that I get depressed. I'm begging off everything serious for at least a couple weeks. I'll only be reading and watching things that make me smile or laugh or at least not want to hide under a rock until all the bad issues get resolved. I'd be there forever anyway, huh?

I've also spent the week in a state of "frozen." My son plays baseball and we're at the beginning part of the season that we call Sprinter. The worst thing about Sprinter is the wind. Of course, the cold isn't much fun either. I can't wait until it's so hot that chafing becomes a real possibility.

I got a surprise in Monday's mail. It was a check from iUniverse, the place I self-published a children's chapter book back in 2008. It wasn't a big check but enough to buy lunch for me and the Mr.

Honestly, I had totally forgotten about the book. Thank you to those who've purchased it. I was going to write a blog post about my experience with self-publishing, but it still hasn't happened. And self-publishing is nothing like it was when I took the plunge. I remember trying to find a company who could create an ebook for me. I had a hard time finding one, and when I did they wanted to charge me $1000. It didn't happen. Now, almost all self-published books are ebooks that didn't cost a dime to create. Even though I don't expect to sell many books, my next step with CHEWY MOON is to create an ebook and put it up on Amazon myself. I'm not sure when I'll get to that task, but it will happen. I'll get it pulled off iUniverse soon.

We're hearing lots of self-publishing success stories. I wish I had some words of wisdom to offer, but all I really know is (and my intent isn't to be a buzz kill) that no matter how you publish, success isn't easy. It's a combination of a compelling story, hard work, timing and good luck. I'm sending you the good luck right now.

I didn't read anything this week that I absolutely LOVED, so I thought I'd share two of my favorite mystery series. Disclaimer: I've gotten to "know" one of these authors and I look forward to meeting her in person at the Malice convention at the end of this month. But if I didn't love her books, I wouldn't even mention her or them. I don't know the other author at all. In fact, it didn't even occur to me to send her a Facebook friend request until I was writing this post. Hope she accepts.

The author I "know" is Wendy Lyn Watson. She has two books published: I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM and SCOOP TO KILL. Her third, A PARFAIT MURDER, publishes in June. There's something delightful and smart about Wendy's writing. I'm looking forward to June. Really, take a look at her books.

The author I don't know and hope to get a 'friend request accepted' from is Casey Daniels. Her Pepper Martin series is clever and I find the stories . . . satisfying. I know, that's not a very flashy word, but I do enjoy the books. I just got the most recent, A HARD DAY'S FRIGHT, and I can't wait to dig into it.

Hope you have a great week!


Friday, April 1, 2011

TMI, and Do I Have the Mettle?

Okay, so this cyst - seriously ridiculous seriousness. When I got to the outpatient clinic, they took me to the back, gave me a gown, and told me to strip down to my undies.

I said - "It's just a cyst on my wrist. I thought I was going to pull up my sleeve, get a shot of something numbing and get the thing cut out of there."

They said, "No, this is a surgery. There are procedures to follow."

I was not happy.

When my husband and I got married twenty years ago, he had one of these cysts removed from his wrist. My memories of his surgery are non-existent.

As I walked (at least they didn't roll me) to the surgical room, holding the back of the gown closed, my husband waved farewell and told me that they made him take off his undies too. I think he was trying to make me laugh or at least be less cranky about the whole thing.

Fortunately, I was only slightly sore one day later. There's been no other pain, but I have a nice bruise on my thumb. Once the stitches come out, I'm sure I'll be pleased that I got it removed - even with the splint, my thumb movement is much better.

Thanks for all the good wishes.

Mettle, Meddle

As of today, I have received fourteen emails about an editing error in FRUIT OF ALL EVIL.

Mettle was used when meddle should have been used.

Ack! How could that possibly have happened???

Here's the deal: a bunch of people look at these books, a number of different pairs of eyes. But no matter what, I certainly can't blame anyone else for any of the mistakes in my books. Ultimately, I take responsibility for every single word I write, including the incorrect ones.

I would love to say that this sort of mistake will never, ever happen again, but I can't make that promise because chances are I would have to break it at some point. Sometimes eyes don't see what's really there, but what the mind thinks the eyes should see. It's a crazy thing.

Thanks for reading my books, and thanks for the messages and emails even the ones that point out the mistakes. I'm truly grateful for you all.

Have you ever read a book that snuck up on you? You're reading something that you're enjoying, not really aware that it is getting under your skin and you suddenly find you're more than enjoying it, you've become attached to the characters? That happened to me this week.

THESE THINGS HIDDEN by Heather Gudenkauf got my attention immediately, but I didn't realize how much I liked it until about halfway through. It's a young adult, no dystopia, no vampires, just challenging life situations that were heartbreaking and disturbing. The book ended on a satisfying note, though not necessarily happy. I'm glad I read it.

I was thinking about young adult books the other day, and I realized how wonderful it would have been to have many of the books that are available now when I was a young adult. My younger life was pretty mellow on the drama scale, but I would have dug into some of these books, particularly those that tackled big issues. I think there used to be a pretty big gap in age-appropriate (however, that's a whole other discussion) YA reading. I love that that gap is being filled.

Have a great week!