Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Borders in Dekalb - January 9th

I'll re-post the Book Launch Party information as we get closer, but today I want to post notice of another book event. This one will be held at the Borders in Dekalb, IL on Friday night, January 9th. I'll be signing books there along with Michael A. Black - and in between, we'll be introducing the eight bands scheduled to perform that night.

The evening is billed as a "Couples' Night Out" in Dekalb. and it truly looks like it will be a special event. Even though Mike and I are not a "couple" (Curt would have a little to say about that - LOL), we're thrilled to be part of the "entertainment" (oh, and I promise not to sing!)

Visit the MySpace page for more information:

January 9, 2009
Borders Dekalb
815-758-8771 (for more information)
The fun starts at 6:00

Mike and I will be signing copies of DEAD RINGER and we will both be signing copies of our individual books as well.

Thanks! Hope to see you there!
Bring a date ...

Monday, December 29, 2008

You are invited!

You're invited to my book launch party for HAIL TO THE CHEF, the second in the White House Chef Mystery series:

Saturday, January 24th
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
7419 W. Madison
Forest Park, IL
2:00 - 4:00-ish


In addition to HAIL, Augie (independent bookstore owner extraordinaire) will also have copies of DEAD RINGER available.

Even though the book was released in December, I realize that most people don't have time to attend a booksigning during the holiday season. I postponed this launch in the hope that everyone can make it. We'll have Ollie- approved appetizers and snacks and maybe even some wine.

I hope to see you there. If you feel like it, drop me a line and let me know if you can come!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book of the Week!!

Wonderful news today!!
David Montgomery named Hail to the Chef as his choice for Book of the Week on his Crime Fiction Dossier site. Take a look:

I'm really excited and I hope you get a chance to take a look and leave a comment. I'm sure David will appreciate that! I know I love it when people leave comments here. Which reminds me -- I wish I could e-mail new folks who leave comments, whose e-mail addresses I don't have. (Hi, Jen! a/k/a Homebrewer)

Hope you're enjoying the season!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a reminder - Bucky's Brussels Sprouts

For first-time visitors - here's a hint: If you're interested in the recipe for Bucky's Brussels Sprouts (yum!), which didn't make it into State of the Onion - please check out this blog's archives for August. The recipe is there.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Manuscript is In!

Now I can truly appreciate the holiday season. The manuscript for book #3 of the White House Chef series is turned in and I'm feeling relaxed. (Well, except for the fact that I haven't done any shopping yet!)

Book #3 will most likely undergo a title change, but I turned it in as EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS and it takes place leading up to (and including) the White House Easter Egg Roll. This one was a little bit different from the prior two because I was able to explore Ollie's family. Her mother and nana come in to D.C. from Chicago (no, not for the inauguration), and get caught up in Ollie's adventure.

As I mentioned before, President Campbell is still running the country in this series, but if I get the opportunity to write more Ollie stories, I'll take her through an election and transition. Should be fun.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy this beautiful season!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Hail to the Chef releases today!

I'm very excited. And nervous, of course. Bringing out a new book is like sending the baby to kindergarten. You hope everybody likes her and she doesn't get picked on ;-)

This is also the beginning of my December blogging. I've changed my color scheme to "decorate" because this blog will be part of the "Parade of Sites" sponsored by Writerspace.

I hope to figure out a few more cool things to add, as we get closer to "parade" day.

But in the meantime ... I'm just excited. I plan to visit the bookstore today. Fingers crossed that Hail will be there.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

White House Chef

Tracy Aleksy forwarded the following link (Thanks, Tracy!):

I'm always on the lookout for information about our White House Chef - and this is the first article that really cuts to the heart of what's required in the job. I hope the Obamas decide to keep Cristeta Comerford in the position - and not just because it's good for Ollie.


Walter Scheib did a wonderful job of describing the needs of the position and the best candidate for it. I tried to write Ollie as a person dedicated to serving her country and after reading Mr. Scheib's description, I feel as though I hit my mark.

Hail to the Chef is due out in stores next Tuesday and the third (and last) book of my contract is now complete and about to be turned in. I really hope Ollie is "re-elected" for another few adventures. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I've been using the title "Belated" on a slew of e-mails lately. Most were very late answers to questions or requests. One was to a friend whose birthday I missed. It's been just that kind of month. Since Bouchercon, I've been running hard to play catch-up. Still not there. In fact this blog entry is *very* belated. It's been over a month since I posted.

But with my eldest daughter, Robyn, in from NY with her boyfriend, Andrew, all bets are off. I'll catch up later. There just isn't enough time to spend with family these days, so I'm enjoying every minute. Sara was in over the weekend from school, and she comes back home again tonight for the holidays. Good stuff.
Saturday we went to the wedding of Lindsey Mueller and Ben Dragstrem. Lindsey is the daughter of dear friends of ours and watching her get married -- she's the first of all our friends' kids -- was more emotional than I expected it to be.
Sunday we decided to show Andrew the Museum of Science and Industry - our family favorite museum. Below are pics of the kids pledging allegiance in front of the United States's tree, and then a few other pics of Grandma and Dad, Uncle Paul and Mitch. The kids took more pictures than I did, but they haven't shared their memory cards with me yet.
I'll wrangle the pics out of them soon ;-)

Going forward, I hope to do better posting here. I have a slew of book-related news, but I'll save that for another day. I still have a manuscript to polish ....
Thanks for checking in! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cozy Library Extravaganza

Saturday, October 18th, I was privileged to be part of the second Cozy Library Extravaganza, sponsored by the Warren-Newport Public Library in Gurnee, Illinois. Eight authors (below) participated in the afternoon event. I forgot my camera (as I tend to do) -- so many thanks to Helen Osterman for sharing this photo with me. I only wish we would have gotten a picture that included Debbie Hoffman and Diana Vickery, too. These are two wonderful ladies who celebrate "cozy" books and who organized this fabulous event.

From left, standing: Helen Osterman, Lauren Willig, Charles Dickinson, Deb Baker.

Seated: Me, Robert Dalby, Libby Hellman, Denise Swanson

I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the readers who came out on a beautiful fall day to hear us talk.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sneak Previews

I'm very excited to share a couple of amazing websites with you. Robyn Hyzy and Andrew Wright, both recent graduates of Ringling College of Art and Design, have posted some of their work online. Robyn's site has just gone live: and although Andrew's has been up a bit longer: I'm sure both of them will be updating their sites regularly.

These are two very talented young people, and I'm privileged to have them in my life. I hope you take a look. Their styles may be different, but Robyn and Andrew share the important traits of determination and enthusiasm. I predict great things for these two. I hope you visit their sites often.

Thanks for letting me take a moment here to gush.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This is fun

If you're looking for information on what the two presidential candidates really believe (or at least, have said), try this link:

The graphics are *way* fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Presidential Election 2008

This is a plea to everyone who shares, or does not share, my political views.

First of all, chances are good that unless you're my immediate family, or my best friend, Rene, you don't know my political views.

Please, please, stop sending me e-mail "Forwards" that lack substance.

If you have information -- *TRUE, SUBSTANTIATED INFORMATION* -- that you want me to know, whether it be about Biden, McCain, Obama, or Palin (notice, alphabetical order), or about any other candidate you support - please feel free to send it to me.

But - if you don't know the truth, or if your e-mail is simply of the "let's slam the opposing candidate" variety -- please, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

I have received e-mails about all the individuals in this presidential election. Some of the information is blatantly untrue. A quick check of Snopes revealed that a slamming e-mail involving Palin was patently false. Another e-mail was so stupid (claiming Obama is the anti-Christ) that I didn't even have to bother with Snopes. No matter who any of us support, can't we agree to stop with the senseless forwarding? And please, while we're at it -- stop those "I'm a nurse and this is what I've seen" or "I'm a lawyer and this is what I've seen" forwards as well. Check SNOPES. As heartrending or as aggravating as the situations sound in these e-mails, many of them are simply recycled from a prior use and are simply designed to incite anger. If you can't personally swear that it really happened, then why tell your friends?

Here's a story that's absolutely true. And I say that with confidence because I was there. Years ago, before this election was even a glimmer in anyone's eye, there was another contentious election going on. And guess what? Democrats and Republicans were the front-running candidates. I was at a churchy event. I say "churchy" because this particular situation involved a lot of very, very devout - very religious-type people. I was there as an outsider (long story), but I overheard the spirited conversation. These very devout people were talking about that era's current president, and about what a terrible job he was doing. (Sound familiar?) They were so completely against this man that they discussed how much they hoped he would be assassinated. Yes. They actually said that.

This was hatred, pure and raw. I was ashamed for these folks. Did I get into the middle of it and argue? No, of course not. They were about as close to a mob mentality as you can get at a churchy thing. But the moment stuck with me. And I have chosen to avoid these people ever since. These people were so sure of their beliefs that they actually wished death on another person. You know what? I think that's sick.

If the e-mail you're about to forward doesn't help the situation... if it's designed simply to make people angry -- to make them hate their fellow man -- then why send it?

If the e-mail you're about to send is true ... if it's YOUR experience, or your belief that you want to share -- if it's something you feel passionate about and it's YOUR words, please send it to me. I would like to know how others come to their decisions. I think that's fascinating.

Who do I support? I don't care to share that information at this time. And maybe I haven't made up my mind yet. I get e-mails from both the McCain and Obama camps. Why? Because I am very interested in where they both stand on the issues and I want to stay informed up to Election Day. If someone can send me *TRUTH* (and who can, really?) then I encourage them to do so. But if someone simply wants to send empty rhetoric, I'd rather they stay silent.

Spreading lies is just another way to spread hatred. Please, let's all work to stop that. We have a wonderful country. We have an amazing system of government. If we put all this energy toward a common good, just think of what we could accomplish. Let's stop tearing things down, and instead - try building things up. Let's do it for the United States of America. Because, no matter who wins, we're all in this together.

Thank you for letting me vent.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Happy Birthday Bro!

Just a quick time-out here to wish my little brother, Paul, a very happy birthday!!

I'm not going to tell you his age, since he is my *younger* brother. I'd like to pretend that maybe we're both about ten years younger than our respective chronological ages would have you believe.

That picture is the two of us from about a year ago (2 years?) when we revisited our old grammar school. Hadn't changed. Not even one little bit.

Just like us, right?


Monday, September 15, 2008


This morning was my first Strength Training exercise class. I loved it. And I usually hate exercise. I have to tell you, though, I chose carefully when signing up for this class. It's only a half hour. There were two other classes that bookend this one, but they are one hour each. Not a chance.

I looked like a goofball with my Star Trek t-shirt (Hey, I think "Resistance is Futile" is a perfect mantra for an exercise class) and a pair of my daughter's pajama pants, but I kept up, mostly. I think the thing I loved the best was that I wasn't overwhelmed this first time out.

When it was time to choose weights, the instructor didn't know what size barbells to advise me to pick up. She asked me what my current exercise regimen was. I said, "Uh ... zero." She assigned me five-pounders. Perfect. Maybe by the end of the eight weeks, I'll work my way up to ten-pounders. Wouldn't that be great!

In any case, I came home, took a shower and now I feel really charged up about writing ... my exercise stretching is carrying me into the home stretch of writing the next White House Chef book (tentatively titled: EGGSECUTIVE ORDERS).

And, just to continue the theme ... my saying that I'm in the home stretch of this book is definitely stretching the truth.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Raspberry Lemon Drop - Part II

I want to thank Jen and Bonnie for sending me recipes for Raspberry Lemon Drops. Who knew there were so many varieties? It should be fun to try them out! Thanks, Ladies.

Today, I received another recipe - from Valerie - who works the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton. She was able to procure the recipe from the bartender who invented it and she shared it with me (in the comments section of the original post). I'm not only excited to be able to try this at home, I'm touched that Valerie took the time to contact find it for me.

Thank you so much, Valerie!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Raspberry Lemon Drop

I am in search of a raspberry lemon drop martini. Seriously.

Back in May, when I visited Sarasota, Florida for my daughter's graduation, I had the pleasure of being invited to the Ritz-Carlton hotel for drinks and camaraderie by Paul and Mitch, my brother, and for all intents and purposes, my brother-in-law.

Anyway, they love the Ritz. I'd been there the week before (as you may recall) for the Jeffrey Katzenberg reception and I raved about the high tea service. Fabulous place.

When we all went there for drinks one evening, the waitress suggested their special Raspberry Lemon Drop and I decided, why not?

Well, it was fabulous. Best martini ever. (I confess that martinis have little to no effect on me. Wine will put me to sleep and/or make me slur my words after one glass. Martinis -- nuthin')

Since returning home, I've been searching in vain for a place up here that serves Raspberry Lemon Drops. Anybody have any ideas? I've requested them at places where they weren't on the menu and the bartenders have made valient attempts ... but no luck. I found one on the menu at Buca di Beppo yesterday. Whoa! Ordering that was a mistake! The waitress said she couldn't find any raspberries so she was about to substitute blueberries. Give me a break.

When the bartender finally found some raspberries, she brought them to the table and unceremoniously plopped them into my less-than-tasty Lemon Drop. Yeah. Didn't make it any better, and the unappetizing method of delivery made me question why we decided to eat there in the first place. I won't make that mistake again.

So, does anyone have any ideas where one might find a quality Raspberry Lemon Drop? I swear I'm no lush, I probably have a drink once a month (at the most) -- but that's why it's so important I don't waste my time on bad concoctions.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bucky's Brussels Sprouts

So many people have asked why Bucky's Brussels Sprouts creation wasn't included with STATE OF THE ONION's recipes. I've gotten lots of requests.

Thanks to my "ghost chef" Denise Little, we now have Bucky's recipe to share with you. I hope to post this on my website eventually, too.

Here you go!

Bucky’s Brussels Sprouts

These cheesy herbed appetizers will change the mind of any hater of Brussels sprouts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Brussels sprouts:

25 fresh Brussels sprouts
4 quarts boiling water
1 tsp salt
2 quarts ice water

Blanch the Brussels sprouts for roughly 4 minutes each by dropping the sprouts 5-6 at a time into a 6 quart pan filled with boiling salted water. After four minutes, remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon, dropping them into ice water to stop the cooking process. Continue until all the sprouts have been blanched. Remove the sprouts from the ice water and let them dry.

Cut off stems from Brussels sprouts. Cut each Brussels sprout in half, beginning at the stem end and cutting down to the top of each sprout. Use a small melon ball to remove the middles of the sprouts. You can reserve these centers for a later use (they are great in soups and casseroles), or toss them. Lay the halved Brussels sprouts on their cut sides down on a paper towel covered surface and allow them to drain while you make the filling (below). Arrange the drained sprouts rounded sides down on a large cookie sheet. You should end up with a tray full of hollowed out Brussels sprouts, hollowed side up. They are now ready to stuff.


4 oz. good feta (goat) cheese at room temperature
3 oz. cream cheese, softened.
2 TBSP fresh dill, chopped (or 1 TBSP dried dill)
2 cloves garlic mashed and minced (or to taste)
½ cup finely chopped walnuts
1 TBSP of olive oil

Mix together ingredients in a medium bowl until combined.


Place a heaping tablespoon full of filling into each hollowed out Brussels sprout. Place the tray of filled Brussels sprouts into the preheated oven. Cook until filling is melted and sprouts are warmed through—about 12-15 minutes. Turn on broiler, cook until cheese filling bubbles and begins to brown—about 1-2 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve warm.

Monday, August 11, 2008


So, I don't exactly *know* Christine Magnuson, but in the six-degrees-of-separation world, it's pretty close. Close enough that we were cheering like crazy here last night when she took silver in the women's 100 meter butterfly.

"Mags" as she's known here in Tinley Park, went to school with my eldest daughter, Robyn. They didn't travel in the same circles (band and swim don't, usually), but Mags was good friends with one of Robyn's good friends. How's that for "degrees"? And my middle daughter, Sara, taught swim lessons with Mags one year. Not that she'd remember ...

Still, when a hometown girl makes it big, we all celebrate. We couldn't be happier for the Magnuson family and we'll be watching her next event, the relay (if I can ever find when it will be broadcast!).

HUGE congratulations to Christine Magnuson, her family, and to all the wonderful and dedicated people who coached, helped, and cheered for her success. We're so proud!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Guess what arrived here yesterday? Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) for DEAD RINGER, the novel I wrote with Michael A. Black. This one features his private investigator, Ron Shade, and my amateur sleuth/news researcher Alex St. James.

This was a surprise. I didn't expect them so soon -- but I'm absolutely delighted. The ARC is hefty - lots of pages for readers to get their money's worth ;-)

I really love this cover. And for those of you who know that Alex doesn't know how to use a gun ... well, let me just say that you may want to read this one ;-)

This installment in Alex's life is a bit less cozy than prior stories. So, be forewarned ;-)

The book debuts this fall. I'll pop back in here when I have the date.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Signing Saturday!

Just a quick update. I'll be doing a signing of State of the Onion at the Matteson Borders store, with Michael A. Black, this Saturday. Mike will be signing his Random Victim.

This Borders store is at Cicero Avenue and Route 30 (also known as Lincoln Highway).

We'll be there at 2:00 PM. It's always great to do a local signing. Hope to see some familiar faces there!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Hail to the Chef Cover!


I can't figure out how to get a picture of the cover to post here, so I'll just include the Amazon link: Hail to the Chef: Julie Hyzy: Books

I just found the cover art this morning. I love it. It's exactly right for the story.
Hope you enjoy this early peek, too.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Once Upon A Crime in Minnesota

I can't say enough about Pat and Gary, or about their bookstore -- Once Upon A Crime. Michael A. Black and I drove up there for a Saturday booksigning and we had a wonderful, wonderful visit. We'd met Gary before, but this was the first time we'd met Pat. They both made us feel so welcome and they encouraged visitors to the store to come over and meet us. Almost everyone walked away with a book. And most folks picked up one from each of us.

In addition, we got to see our great friend, Carl Brookins. He stopped by to say hello and to pose for a photo with Mike.
Carl is great. He's such an interesting fellow - I enjoy reading his reviews and I am a great fan of his "author salon" -- which was introduced at Magna Cum Murder last year and reprised at Love Is Murder (and at LCC as well?). His The Case of the Greedy Lawyers which debuted in hardcover, was just released in paperback by Nodin Press.

We also had the opportunity to meet Julie Kramer, whose
Stalking Susan will be coming out July 15th. She'll have her book launch at Once Upon a Crime that day, so if you're in the area, be sure to stop by and pick up a copy. In the picture at the right, Julie Kramer holds a copy of People magazine. This issue -- with the late Tim Russert on the cover -- names Stalking Susan as a summer hot read (page 43). Check it out!

Pat and Gary have created a haven for booklovers in Minneapolis and I'm honored and delighted that they invited us to come up there for a signing. We had a great time and enjoyed meeting everyone who stopped by.

Thanks, Pat and Gary!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Movie Recommendation

My 16-year-old had her wisdom teeth out today. She has boatloads of ice cream, broth, and friends to keep her company, and because the kids can't do much else, they're watching movies. The first on today's docket is one I like very much -- but one that didn't get a lot of play when it first came out.

The Prestige stars Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, and Michael Caine. It came out about the same time as The Illusionist (with Edward Norton), and though both films involve magicians, illusion, and distraction, the stories are very different. Where The Illusionist is a story of romance, The Prestige is one of intrigue.

I don't want to say much about the story, lest I ruin it, but if you likes movies that keep you guessing, you should make time to see The Prestige.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Once Upon A Crime Bookstore Event

Just thought I'd mention that I'll be at the Once Upon A Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, MN this Saturday, from noon - 2:00PM with Michael A. Black. He'll be signing his newest, Random Victim, and I'll be signing State of the Onion.

This is a great mystery bookstore -- and if you're in the area, I hope you pop in and say hello:

Hey, cool thing I just noticed today ... if you look at that photo of all the books on the shelves, you can see a copy of Artistic License kinda near the left edge of the picture. I thought that was really neat!

More later ...

Be well.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Printers Row!

Pics from our Midwest MWA appearance at Printers Row:

Before the first readers arrived on Saturday, we were decorated and ready for a full weekend of fun!

Saturday morning started out with a bang, and it never let up. We had an almost-constant flow of readers eager to talk with our authors ... and buy books. Here, Luisa Buehler directs a new fan to check out his purchases with our Centuries and Sleuths bookseller - Lynda.

Sunday morning, right before we opened the booth - Jess Lourey and Julia Buckley smile for the camera. Little did they know that within about an hour or so, all those books in front of them would be gone ... into the hands of happy readers.

Ever the great guy, Michael A. Black took to the streets to encourage readers to come visit the MWA booth. He made them offers they couldn't refuse ;-)

Sunday afternoon the skies opened and the monsoon began. This is a view from the side of our booth ... those are our balloons, trying gamely to stay afloat.
Despite the rain (it showered Saturday for a while, too), the rolling thunder and cracks of lightning that sent us all scurrying for shelter, Chicagoans by the hundreds returned when the sun came back out Sunday afternoon, and they continued to talk to us and buy our books up until almost the very last minute of the fair.
Can't wait till next year!!

Monday, June 02, 2008

The MWA and Printers Row!!

Between preparing for our MWA meeting in St. Louis (June 4th) and preparing for the Midwest MWA's first appearance at Printers Row coming up this weekend (June 7-8), I almost forgot about the blog!

If you're in the Chicago area and you're looking for a wonderful, literary time, be sure to come to Printers Row, just south of Chicago's Loop at Dearborn and Polk. Our MWA chapter has one-quarter of a tent there this year. Look for us. We'll be at KK, quadrant 1. That means we face north. Can't wait. I'm really excited.

Lots of authors will be signing at our tent including MWA authors from other parts of the country. I hope this is the start of an annual Midwest-MWA event.

I'll be signing, too, of course. But I don't have an actual signing *time* - I'll just be there all weekend, except for an official signing time with Big Sleep Books at 1:00 on Sunday, and quick trips to the ladies' room.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Hail to the Chef

Guess what! Hail to the Chef, the second in White House Chef Mystery series is coming out in December. That's a full month earlier than I expected!

I noticed it on with the December date, and I got in touch with Berkley to see if this was correct -- and it is.

I'm particularly thrilled, because this second book in the series is set during preparations for the White House Holiday season and the timing of the book's release will now coincide (well, pretty close) with the timeframe of the story.

Here's the link to the Amazon site: Hail to the Chef: Julie Hyzy: Books There's no cover art yet but I can't wait to see what the artists come up with this time, because the cover of State of the Onion was wonderful! As soon as I get a copy of the cover of Hail to the Chef, I'll post it here.


Oh, and I received an e-mail from the bookstore Reading On Walden. Michael A. Black and I appeared at the Beverly Library (Chicago) last Thursday and we had a wonderful time. John Presta, one of the owners of Reading On Walden, is also an avid blogger, and he sent me a link to his post:

I hope you'll read his reviews and bookmark his site. I have!

John is encouraging me to be a better blogger - He suggested I post more often than once or twice a month as has been my habit (except for recent Edgar/Ringling events). He also suggested I host guest bloggers and develop a stronger theme for the site. I think he's got some great ideas and I intend to put them into practice starting now ;-)

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Graduation Day

I got back to my room after the Edgar banquet and subsequent partying at about 1:00 in the morning. I was able to sleep for about an hour, then got up, showered and got myself packed and out the door for a six AM flight out of LaGuardia to Sarasota, Florida for my oldest daughter's graduation. After four great years at Ringling College of Art and Design, Robyn was graduating with her Bachelor's Degree of Fine Arts, major: Illustration. If you want to see some of her artwork, check out her blog:

I was panicked that my flight would be delayed because there were *no* other flights from LaGuardia to Sarasota, but I got there on time - and even the layover in Atlanta wasn't bad. My family was already in Sarasota -- taking in the beautiful weather and all the amazing artwork. I had to get myself showered (again) and dressed because I had a very special afternoon planned.
The commencement speaker for Ringling's graduation - as I mentioned in a prior blog post - was Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Dreamworks. I was very excited (I think that was pretty obvious). What happened next, after that blog post, was even more exciting.

My daughter Robyn is dating Andrew (great guy) and his mother, Bonnie, is a member of Ringling's board. Because of her standing at the school, she was invited to an afternoon tea -- featuring Jeffrey Katzenberg on the day of graduation. And ... how cool is this ... she invited me to go with her!!

The tea was held at the Ritz Carlton hotel and let me just say ... Wow! The finger sandwiches, canapes, and desserts were beautiful, and abundant. Bonnie and I were rebels and had coffee instead of tea ;-) There were only about 100 people invited to this and I felt incredibly lucky to have been invited. Bonnie is great. Andrew had prepared a question for Jeffrey Katzenberg - he'd typed it up ahead of time and Bonnie wanted to be sure that it was asked during the event. For a little while there, we thought that the organizers had forgotten, but Ringling president Larry Thompson pulled it out and gave it the attention it deserved. Now, I'm not just playing favorites here, but I thought Andrew's question was by far the best one asked during the event. Most of the other people were not parents of graduates -- they seemed to be local luminaries and/or donors to Ringling. They were more interested in what Katzenberg could do for the school, whereas Andrew was more interested in the future of the industry.

We had a great time and I was just so happy to be there. What a wonderful afternoon. Thanks, Bonnie!!

The afternoon tea ended at about five, and we were allowed entrance to the graduation ceremony at about six. I got back to the room where everyone (Dad, Sara, Biz, Grandma, Paul, Auntie Claudia, and Mitch) were ready to go, too.

Beautiful ceremony. As "Pomp and Circumstance" began and the graduates began their march, I started to cry. Yeah, for those of you who know me -- I am not much of a crier. But the sobs started and would not stop. I asked Curt why I was crying and he just said, "Because you're happy and proud." And he was right.

Three students sang the National Anthem so beautifully it gave me chills. Student speaker Erin McGuire's talk was one of the best I've heard, and Jeffrey Katzenberg's address was inspirational. Right before he talked, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree. This is Mr. Katzenberg's first degree. He never attended college, and he talked about that, too. I can't do his speech justice, but I felt as though the audience really came away better for having heard him.

There was one big faux pas. The invocation/benediction person did a major "oops" at the end when she called him "Jeffrey Katzenberger" and the entire audience gasped. She tried to correct herself, but the damage was done. Even from my high-up seat, I thought I saw Larry Thompson cringe.

Except for that, it was one of the best graduations (if not *the* best) I've ever attended.

Aren't they beautiful?


Friday, May 09, 2008

... Still Going ...

You know who I forgot to mention? Phil Spitzer. He is such a nice man! We'd met once before (at Bouchercon-Madison) and he either remembered or very convincingly pretended to ;-) I really enjoyed talking with him.

***You'll note a recurring theme in my blog ... people don't tend to remember meeting me. I apparently wear an invisibility cloak LOL Remind me to tell you about how D. C. Brod and I competed at Bouchercon in Chicago to decide which one of us is more invisible (I won).***

Anyway, Thursday May 1st was the big day. The night of my first-ever Edgar Banquet! But the lead-up was pretty cool too. With no specific plans for the day I strolled out into sunny NYC and decided to visit the library on 5th Avenue. I started up the majestic steps at about ten minutes before ten AM. And guess what? The library doesn't open until eleven. That blew my mind. I can't imagine a library opening that late. Wow.

I knew I wanted to see the library (another first), so I thought I'd waste a little time and shop. Mind you, the stores weren't open yet either. But then I had the most interesting experience. The doors of Lord & Taylor were open, and I stepped inside, joining an assemblage of people who were waiting to be allowed in to shop. A few people up front sat on black director's chairs and the rest just waited while an expertly coiffed, designer-dressed, spry blond woman spoke to the group. The woman, whose name I was later to learn was Faye (Fay?) was energetic and cheerful. I couldn't make out what she was saying -- as I was very near the revolving doors that kept spilling people into our midst ... and these people never stepped far enough inside the doors, resulting in lots of battered shoulders!

But then Faye gestured for the folks in the director's chairs to come to their feet. They did. Over the store's loudspeakers came the National Anthem and we all stood at attention until the song was complete. At that point Faye smiled and invited us all to come shop. Wow. What a cool way to open a store. I was surprised, and moved. Just lovely.

After an hourlong browse of L&T, I headed back to the library. It was worth the wait. Just amazing. I won't go into a long explanation because I can't do it justice. But if you have the opportunity to visit the NY library ... I really encourage you to take it.

Wow... can I just say that again? I had the most wonderful time.
I won't get into who won and who didn't. You can read the list of Edgar nominees and winners elsewhere online. Suffice it to say that there were a couple of categories where my tastes ran differently than the judges'. But that's the nature of it all, isn't it?

The reception before the banquet and the banquet itself were fabulous. I can't even start naming people who were there ... there are just far, far too many amazing names. The true glitterati of the crime fiction world. I was in total awe, and just breathless to be part of it.

Laura Durham, Margery Flax, and the committee who planned this affair deserve every accolade we can bestow. The food was great, the conversation lively, and Al Roker as Master of Ceremonies, a perfect choice. It was my good fortune to sit between Frankie Bailey and Paula Munier. We had Jane Cleland and her husband at our table, as well as good friends Ted Hertel and his wife, Maggie Ley, Sandy Balzo, and Jeremiah Healy. We also had a woman from the press (can't recall her name) - who looked like a very young Ally Sheedy.

I'm out of time here ... darn.
Gotta run.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Day Two of Edgar Week

Day Two:

I skipped out on the symposium (again) because I had a chance to meet with Erin C. Niumata, my agent. It was great to meet face-to-face and to see FOLIO's offices. I gotta tell you - even though I've signed the agreement and I know I'm officially represented - I was still really nervous. I mean, I've never been represented for any of my other books and I wanted to make a good impression. I can tell you that Erin put me at ease right away. I was thrilled to meet Jeff Kleinman, too. Good people. I'm really happy to be here.

Later, I tagged up with Judy Bobalik again. Marcus Sakey had made it in and the three of us planned to meet Tasha Alexander at The Algonquin before the Agents and Editors party that evening. While we sat in the Hyatt's bar, Larry Gandle joined us. A little while later, Patricia Smiley came by, too. I just love the way groups gather. Chitchatting ran late, and instead of heading to the Algonquin in my high heels, I opted to take a cab with Larry and Patty to The Lighthouse, where the party was being held.

Can I just say how much fun this was? Tasty hors d'oeuvres, decent wine, and lots and lots of wonderful conversation. Jim O'Keefe introduced me to Mary Higgins Clark (how cool!) and I met up with Karen Hutchinson (who I'd met at the symposium the day before) who's one of our MWA members from Chicago. James Lincoln Warren was there, and it was nice to see a new-familiar face. I love that. I was able to meet and speak briefly with my editor, Natalee, and with her assistant, Michelle. So many people there ... I was surprised (though I probably shouldn't have been) to see Barb D'Amato and Mark Zubro. It's always nice to meet up with folks from "home."

I'm going on and on here with lots of names, and I know I'll forget to mention most of them, so I'd better stop before I get myself in trouble.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Oops, I'm tagged

I've been away from my blog for so long that I didn't read my comments until today. And I didn't even get a chance to check out other blogs I usually visit ... until today.

So, I just found out that I've been tagged by Julia Buckley. And I'd better do this today before I go any further on my Edgar/Ringling week activities.

Here are the tagging rules:
Link to the person that tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself in a blog post.
Tag six people.
Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their post.
Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Okay, here goes -- Six random things:

1) I'm borrowing from Julia to get started. She claims to do a great iguana imitiation. I don't do iguana, but I do a respectable chimpanzee ;-)

2) When I was in grammar school in Chicago, I came in second place (twice) in district math contests. In high school I came in second place in a spelling bee.
Sigh... That first place trophy eludes me still ...

3) I love Star Trek, especially Next Generation. (Can you say "Geek"?)

4) Ray Bradbury called me at home.

5) I think having three teenage daughters at once was one of the best things that ever happened to me -- and to my wardrobe!

6) I have terrible short-term memory. Embarrassing sometimes. I can remember whether I liked a movie, and who was in it, but I cannot recall specific scenes, even if I just saw a film the night before. Sometimes I can't even remember endings. It's pathetic, but kinda nice in the sense that I can enjoy an already-viewed movie as though it's brand-new. Exceptions to this rule are favorites I've seen many, many times ... The Wizard of Oz, The Princess Bride, The Sound of Music, While You Were Sleeping, and It's A Wonderful Life.

How's that for random information? Now I have to think about who to tag next ...

Continued ...

Where was I?
Still at Mysterious Bookshop, right?

I had the pleasure of meeting James Lincoln Warren -- whose stories regularly grace Alfred Hitchcock's pages. Speaking of AHMM - Linda Landrigan was there too. As was her new assistant, Laurel. Jim was great to talk with. We got along famously and became fast friends.

There were so many people I met for the first time -- Chris Knopf, Jonathan Santlofer, Elaine Flynn ... I know I'm missing a whole boatload of names here. What I loved about the event was just how much fun it was to chitchat and talk with some of these paragons of the mystery world. It's just such a wonderful feeling to belong to this great group.

Ken Bruen was there -- we've met before, but I don't think he remembered me. That's par for the course LOL

Oh, and I met Sarah Weinman! How cool is that? I guess I should've recognized her from her pic on her blog, but I didn't. I read that blog all the time ... it was just cool.

It's hard to describe, but bumping and talking, and being in the presence of so many wonderful books and authors was just the best. I found myself smiling a lot.

After the signing and the schmoozing, I walked with Judy Bobalik, and Roseann and Reed Coleman to a nearby restaurant. The area around the bookstore gets a little dicey at night, but I felt totally comfortable (might have had something to do with Reed looking so intimidating in his leather jacket) . Dinner and conversation was great. Lots of fun.

Back at the hotel, we all sat around in the bar and talked about the upcoming Edgar Awards. I was just awed to be there with so many great folks and with nominees Reed and Ken. Both were so very magnanimous about their nominations.

I had a wonderful ... very full ... day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


I was going to title this "Reverse Chronology" because I have so much to talk about and I planned to start with the most recent events and work backward. But I changed my mind. After giving it some thought, I decided I'd talk about Edgar Week first, then talk about Robyn's graduation from Ringling and all the excitement surrounding that weekend.

Edgar Week:
This was my very first experience at the Edgars. I planned to attend the two-day symposium, but after Tuesday morning, I ducked out to have lunch with Judy Bobalik at the Comfort Diner (great food, great conversation) and then headed back to the hotel to get ready for the launch party for Blue Religion at the Mysterious Bookshop.

I confess, I was tempted to skip this event until Judy talked me into going. I wasn't sure I'd know enough people to fit in, and I wasn't sure what I'd do while everyone else was catching up and sharing stories. But you know what? I had a wonderful time! Absolutely wonderful.

Roseann Coleman, Reed Farrel Coleman's wife, is a an absolute sweetheart. I met her for the first time and she was just so much fun, and so interesting to talk with. She and Judy knew just about everyone there, and were more than happy to introduce me. I met Ken Isaacson, who I recognized as a "friend on MySpace" (or Crimespace, or both?) and he is such a nice guy. I also met Jim O'Keefe, who I'd been corresponding with online regarding setting up Midwest MWA meetings in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and he had a copy of State of the Onion for me to sign. I was thrilled to do so, of course. And I was so happy to meet so many great people.

Paul Guyot, who was signing Blue Religion, introduced me to Alafair Burke, who was signing too. She's great. Very down-to-earth. Later she showed me a pic of her French bulldog and I just love folks who love their pets ... you know?

Okay, have to run. Time to take the car in. More later. Very soon.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No Time

I've been wanting to craft a "real" post here for a few days - lots of exciting stuff happening - but I just can't manage the time it would take to put it all up here. I'll have some great stuff to report, but I probably can't get back here until the first week of May.

Enjoy the wonderful weather!


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Trip to the Morgue

Despite the fact that I'm not a person who gets grossed out or sick at the sight of body parts gone awry, a trip to the morgue does not leave one unmoved by the experience.

Last week I was fortunate (?) to visit Cook County morgue again. This is my third morgue visit, and my second to Cook County. Wow. Even though I'd been there before, I still came away overwhelmed by the experience.

When I went to the morgue last summer, the body count was higher, and the smell much stronger. This time, there were fewer bodies in storage (maybe about 200) and it made the trek through the massive cooler much less difficult. Contrary to CSI-type shows, there are no drawers here. The remains of the people brought to the facility are stored on very large trays -- like giant cookie sheets -- stacked in six-high bunk-beds.

It's surreal.

The good thing (if there is a good thing about seeing death this up close and personal) is that the people there don't look real. They look like wax images of people. That, too, makes things easier to deal with.

While we were there, five autopsies were going on. Three gunshot deaths, one leap (push?) from a high place, and one I never found out about.

The sad part was knowing there were healthy organs that could no longer be donated. In the case of a fatal gunshot wound to the head, we learned that organs can still be donated without impeding a homicide investigation. We watched as several otherwise-healthy young people were autopsied, and their organs cut, weighed, and returned to the open corpse. And we couldn't help think about the waste. Waste of life for the young person being dissected on the tray. Waste of a chance at life for anyone on a donor list.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jeffrey Katzenberg!

Well, color me excited! I just found out that the commencement speaker for my daughter's graduation ceremony is Jeffrey Katzenberg. I've always liked the guy - and felt miffed on his behalf when he didn't get the number one position at Disney. But if he had, then maybe we wouldn't have Dreamworks SKG today. Right? (I'm an inveterate Pollyanna)

Four of us friends liked that name so much, that we decided to call our plans for the future Dreamworks HO. Ho, as in a sailor's cry "Land, ho!" and also to stand for our last names, Hyzy and O'Shea. Cute, huh?

Anyway, I love so much of what Dreamworks SKG does, and I'm in awe of all Katzenberg, Spielberg, and Geffen have accomplished, that I can't wait to hear this commencement address!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


No, I'm not singing my protagonist's, Ollie's, praises.

I'm announcing the title of the second book in the White House Chef Mystery series. I originally came up with a different, longer title, but the wise people at Berkley decided against my suggestion and have come up with: HAIL TO THE CHEF.

I like it a lot. And I think it suits the story very well.

This second book, after STATE OF THE ONION, takes place at the White House (natch) during the Thanksgiving holidays and just as the presidential mansion is opened for visitors for the holiday season. Although the book isn't scheduled to be released until January, 2009, I keep hoping for news that they'll bring it out early to coincide with the 2008 holiday season. Unlikely, I know. But a girl can hope, right?

Thanks for popping in. Have a great weekend! I'm currently at work on book #3. Appropriately enough, this one will be set during the White House Easter Egg Roll! I'm getting in the mood by downing plenty of Dove truffle eggs (available only this time of year).

Chocolate always helps the creative process and this is some eggscellent chocolate!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Acme Authors Link

Hey - if you're reading this, take a quick trip over to Acme Authors Link ACME AUTHORS LINK where I've been granted the honor of guest-blogging today! I talk about synesthesia (which I've mentioned here, briefly) and I'd love to hear your thoughts!

The Acme Authors are a great group of friends. They have lots to say and I know you'll enjoy their words of wisdom. Bookmark their site for fun and for info!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Cruelest Month

I've heard April referred to as "The Cruelest Month" - but my high school math teacher, Sr. Dolorosa, insisted that distinction belonged to March. This year, however, I believe that cruel title belongs to February. I'm happy to see that month disappear and my only regret was that it was one day longer than it should have been.

Here it is, the second day of March, and things already look better on the horizon. We spent yesterday with old friends, and today dawned bright and beautiful. With a high of 48 degrees, this was practically t-shirt weather for winter-weary Chicagoans. We went out for a walk in the sunshine, and decided that things will be good again. Soon.

March is a long month. A full 31 days. I plan to enjoy every minute of every single day. I hope you do, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

NIU update - Heroes in the midst of chaos

Earl Merkel is a friend of mine (and a fabulous author). His son, Jeff, a student at NIU, was one of the heroes who came to the aid of victims in the midst of chaos.

Sun-Sentinal reporter Oline Cogdill blogged about Earl's son today. Please take a look.

I'm glad there are people like Jeff in this world.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Northern Illinois University Shooting

First - my daughter, Sara, is okay. She called me yesterday before the news even hit to let me know she was all right and to tell me she was worried about a friend of hers who wasn't answering her cell phone.

As it turns out, Sara's friend was in the lecture hall when the gunman opened fire. She's unhurt -- and, in fact, came over here last night to share her story -- but I'm horrified and angry that this could happen to innocent kids yet again.

As I listened to Sara's friend tell it - from the moment the gunman entered, until she finally believed she was safe - I was overcome with emotion and chilled to my core. This is a resilient kid, and I think she'll be okay, but I was just taken aback by the step-by-step terror she lived through. No one should have to live through such a thing.

Earlier this month a different gunman killed five shoppers in a Lane Bryant store very close to my home. Everyone is asking - Why wasn't there more security? What are the police doing to catch the guy?

The police are doing the best they can. And we, as a nation, have to stop expecting to be protected from the weirdos of the world when our system routinely prevents these weirdos from paying the price for their offenses.

We live in a society that works so hard to protect the rights of criminals that we trample on the rights of the innocent. So few convicted individuals ever fully pay the price for their crimes. Why should they stop stealing, killing, or raping? If there are no consequences, then why obey the law at all?

We look at these recent horrors and complain that the police aren't doing enough. But the moment they stop a crime in progress, it is the police who are taken to task for overstepping their boundaries.

I am not against civil rights. I truly believe in Ben Franklin's statement that those who are willing to give up liberty for the sake of security deserve neither. I'm not advocating a police state. Quite the opposite. I'm advocating a return to reasonableness -- and a return to following the laws we already have in place. If a killer is convicted - do *not* let him out to kill again. Don't put him in a nice jail with the opportunity to better himself. Lock him up forever and let him know that his life is over. That's it. Let's quit making things nice for criminals because we want to rehabilitate them. Let's spend that money, instead, on keeping our economy sound and our education top-notch. Let's stop encouraging criminals because pretty soon they'll outnumber the innocent.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oh, Poe!

I'm planning to go to the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards banquet this year! First time ever!

In honor of my excitement, I want to share something very special with you.

My daughter, Robyn, recently painted her unique depiction of Edgar Allan Poe, and has graciously agreed to allow me to post it. The portrait appears on my website links page: and was done in acrylic and tar. Yes, you read right ... tar.

This is a scan of a scan, but I think it's still such a great piece that I wanted to highlight it on my site. As you know Robyn maintains a blog and updates occasionally She doesn't have her Poe piece on the blog, so I convinced her to let me put it on mine.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not today!!

Tomorrow is the first day of the Love Is Murder Mystery conference. And today it's snowing like the dickens, which makes it difficult for our out-of-town guests to make it into town.

Tess Gerritsen called me this afternoon, severely delayed. As of this writing I don't know if she made it in, but my fingers are crossed.

It was around this time (January 26), 41 years ago that Chicago was buried in the great snowstorm of 1967:

Let's hope we're not in for a repeat performance.

Hey - just as I was writing this I heard from Tess. She's in. Landed and on her way to the hotel.

Can't wait for tomorrow. This will be a great conference.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dallas Book Diva

I just had the pleasure of talking with Cheryl Nason, the Dallas Book Diva Dallas Book Diva. Cheryl read State of the Onion and was kind enough to invite me to discuss the book for her blog. Cheryl is a warm and engaging interviewer who is truly interested in books and authors. She's great. I was delighted to know she enjoyed reading the book, and that she really liked Ollie's character and adventures.

I encourage you to check out Cheryl's blog where she features lots of wonderful writers and their books. You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Little thrills

I opened today's Chicago Tribune book section and was totally shocked to see State of the Onion listed as a top seller this week in "From the Precincts" on page 2.


I yelped, stood up, and couldn't stop repeating, "Oh my gosh!"

The Trib gathers sales information from Chicago bookstores, and I realize (even as I struggle to control my glee), that had the newspaper chosen a different bookstore this week, there may have been vastly different results. So, I'm not fooling myself. Although the top of the page boasts "BESTSELLERS" - I know I'm still a long way from achieving that status.

I am deeply grateful to Alibi Books in Glenview, IL for choosing to stock State of the Onion. And I'm ecstatic that the book is doing well. Thanks!

In the large scheme of things, this is a little thrill. But on a personal level, it's very, very big.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

My Poor Neglected Blog

Well, it's been far too long since I've blogged here. If I haven't mentioned LOVE IS MURDER enough yet - consider this another reminder. Love Is Murder, a wonderful mystery conference for readers, writers, and lovers of crime fiction, comes to Chicago the first weekend in February.

Keeping up with all the schedule changes and panelist updates has kept me from blogging. Every day, by the time I have a chance to access this site, it's usually very late at night and my brain cells are wrung out. The last thing I want to do is wreak my rambling prose on poor readers, so I've been shutting the computer down every night vowing that *tomorrow* I'll get back to the blog.

And, as my father used to say, "Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!"

Well - the big news, of course, is that STATE OF THE ONION has made it to the bookstores! I walked into my neighborhood BN and there it was. I was so surprised to see it, I yelped -- much to my 15 year-old's chagrin. This is as much fun as seeing my first book on the shelves. Maybe even more fun.

Augie Aleksy, of Centuries & Sleuths bookstore, hosted my launch party on Sunday and I have to say it went exceptionally well. I forgot my camera, but Julia Buckley blogged about it here: Mysterious Musings: Nothing Like A Good New Read and my daughters (two of whom were in town and able to be part of it) promise me pictures one of these days.

I want to say thank you to everyone who came to Sunday's party - and without whose support I could never make it in this business. And I want to say thanks, too, to all the wonderful readers who have been e-mailing me via the website. It's wonderful to hear from readers who are enjoying the book. And wonderful to have a book that's so widely available.

Tomorrow I head to NYC for my MWA orientation. Leaving the family home to fend for themselves is always nerve-wracking, but I can't wait to get back to the Big Apple. Despite the 30 degree rainy weather ;-)