Monday, October 29, 2007

Magna Cum Murder

Got back from Magna Cum Murder last night and I'm still feeling the warm glow. What a great conference - what great people! I meant to take my camera and include a picture or two here, but I forgot it at home. Sigh.

One of the best parts of conferences is meeting new people: Marian, Gennarose, Tammy, Emily Anne, Joan, and John, were just some of the great folks at Magna. The other best part of a conference is seeing people I haven't seen since the last conference, or in some cases, since the last time I was at Magna: Eric, Judy, Kent, Sandy, and so many - if I tried to list everyone I'd probably go nuts.

Kathryn Kennison, Jama Bigger, Jim Huang, and everyone running the conference did a Magna-ificent job ;-) of keeping everyone busy and keeping thing interesting. The Hotel Roberts was closed, and everyone was off-site this time, which might have put a damper on things, but I think had the opposite effect. Since no one could easily return to his/her room, everyone stayed - almost all the time. I think this Magna was actually the best one I've attended. I wouldn't change one minute of it.

Carl Brookins' experiment - his "ideal panel" - was a big hit. Four authors sit and chat in a central location, and attendees are encouraged to sit in and listen, and occasionally pop into the converstaion. Every so often, one author leaves and another takes his/her place. The discussion continues for a couple of hours. This was very energizing, and a very neat concept. I hope there's opportunity to try this experiment again.

That's my Magna report...
More later this week on other subjects.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Crunch is significant in two ways today. Time crunch and car crunch. My second book in the White House Chef series is due in December, but I really wanted to turn it in by the end of October. I don't think I'll make that deadline, but it should be close. I like setting my deadlines early and I probably could have had this one done in August, but I thoroughly enjoyed having my kids home this summer and spent a bit less time writing than I normally do. That means this is crunch time.

In other matters, my poor van got its nose smashed this weekend when a limo backed into it. We were at the airport, dropping Robyn off to head back to school, and -bam-. I'm stuck without my own wheels this week, which considering the manuscript time crunch, is not a bad thing. ;-) I do have a beater van to drive around if I need to, but at every turn I hear a noise that sounds like the back end is about to drop off.
The fun never stops ;-)
Crunch, crunch.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Just an update... check out pictures of some of my author friends on Flickr. Yes, these are from last month, but I just uploaded them today (I should be writing). Access my albums via my website -

On the left are a series of clickable links. The new pics (as well as some old ones) are accessible by clicking "Photo Albums."

More pictures soon.

Return comments

For some reason, I am unable to comment on other Blogger's accounts. Whenever I access another Blogger's comment page, my screen constantly refreshes. It's a jumpy, unpleasant sight and I can't scroll down to read, nor post a comment myself. So, if you're reading this and you're on Blogger... you now know *why* I never comment on your musings.

One of these days (when I have time) I'll figure this out and fix it. For now... my apologies. Just know that if you're on my list of blog links - I read you regularly.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hardzy and CFFL

I just posted this on Dorothy L. when the topic of "medium-boiled" came up:

In the course of writing our collaborative novel (final edits just turned in - won't be out for a year), my writing partner, Michael A. Black and I decided that the adventure we wrote -- featuring his hard-boiled PI and my cozy news researcher -- didn't fit any particular sub-genre well.

So we came up with our own term: "Hardzy"


I love this term and I'm excited about using it. To be honest, the description fits not only DEAD RINGER (the collaboration) but to a great extent, it fits my most recent Alex St. James novel DEADLY INTEREST, and the upcoming new series STATE OF THE ONION as well. Not exactly cozy, not hard-boiled. "Hardzy" is truly apt.

Mike and I also came up with another term. This one's a couple of years old now: CFFL (pronounced "cuffle"). It stands for "Customary Fight For your Life" and whenever we get to the climactic parts of our novels, we talk about plans for our CFFLs. DEAD RINGER, in fact, has two CFFLs. The book won't be out for a year, but I hope you get a chance to read it.

Just remember, you heard it here first: Hardzy - the newest crime fiction sub-genre ;-)

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Maltese Falcon

I've been participating in the NEA's BIG READ program at my local libraries. Mike Black and I have been facilitating discussions about Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon:

Our favorite discussion to-date has been a comparison of the three film versions, The Maltese Falcon with Ricardo Cortez, Satan Met a Lady, starring Bette Davis (who claimed this movie was the dog of her career) and the most famous version from debut director John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre.

The more we talk about the book and the movies, the more I appreciate the beauty of Hammett's prose. He did what we're all taught *not* to do today - he shifted POV at random - and it works. I love the fact that we don't ever get into Sam Spade's head. It makes it all the more intriguing at the end when we're left to wonder ... did he love Brigid, or did he not?

If any of the talks Mike and I have been giving encourage folks to pick up this book, then I feel as though it's been time well spent. The NEA chose The Maltese Falcon because it's considered literary, despite the fact that it's a detective novel. (Let's not go down the literary path today, but suffice it to say that although Hammett's Falcon is great, I believe there are many other crime writers who are worthy of a "literary" title.)

Working with libraries is always a joy, and I know that my in-depth study of The Maltese Falcon has brought me a new appreciation for the work. I hope the Big Read program continues with more exciting novels to explore next year.

By the way, Warner Bros. has a fabulous Falcon DVD set out there -- it includes all three film versions. If you get a chance to see them all, you'll be surprised at the difference in each story's tone.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Newsy stuff

Breakthrough Promotions has a neat site - Mystery Morgue. It features reviews, interviews, and - this month - an essay I wrote about my experience at the Oregon Coast Professional Fiction Writers Workshop back in 2002. I hope you get a chance to take a look. Here's the link to the essay:

There's probably a more elegant way to post that, but I'm not quite sure how.

This is an article in our local paper, The Daily Southtown, featuring our writing group, the Southland Scribes. Photo below:

We're a good group--with great people--and we've been together so long, I feel like we're family. What's particularly exciting is that so many of us have been published that our little group's successes are beginning to get some notice. In fact, another local paper, The Star, ran a similar article about a week ago, but I haven't been able to find that one online. It's all good press!

Oh, and Robyn posted some new artwork last week: I love the birdcage picture!

Be well.