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.