Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Hiya!

It's been quite some time since I've posted here, but thanks to Clare O'Donohue, I have something to share. It's called "The Next Big Thing." Last week Clare posted her answers to questions on her blog and today it's my turn. I was supposed to tag other authors to do this for next week, but in the holiday busy-ness it slipped my mind. Sort of like a chain letter, I guess. And I just broke it.

Oops!

In any case... I'm game for answering the questions that have been posed. If you're interested, please have a look:

What is the title of your next book? 
My next book is FONDUING FATHERS. It comes out Monday (not Tuesday, as I originally wrote here. Thanks, Rene!), which also happens to be New Year's Eve.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
This is the sixth in the White House Chef Mystery series and it continues Olivia's (Ollie's) adventures. This time she's looking into her own past even though she may not like what she finds.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a
movie rendition?

I'd go with America Ferrara for Ollie
Jonathan Harris (Dr. Zachary Smith from Lost in Space) or David Hyde Pierce for Peter Everett Sargeant
I'd love my husband to play Gav... if my husband could act. We've tested those waters and he'll be the first to admit it's not his thing.
The current First Family could play the First Family in the book. The only problem is that their fictional counterparts have one daughter, one son, not two daughters. Do you think Sasha would mind?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Olivia must reach out to her father’s colleagues to discover the truth behind his murder...what she’s about to discover may not only put her at risk, but threaten national security as well.

Will your book be self-published?
No. All the White House Chef Mysteries (and my Manor House Mysteries) are published by Berkley Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Books.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your
manuscript?

Three months.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
A deadline inspired me. Deadlines work like magic - every time!

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Most times when Ollie gets into trouble, it's because she's trying to right a wrong, or help someone else. This time, she's on a very personal quest. The stakes this time are very, very high.

Thanks for reading!!

Other friends Clare tagged are:
Mollie Cox Bryan
Tony Perona
I hope you swing by their sites!

PS - I'm not sure if I mentioned this here before, but I have an author page on Facebook - here. I'd appreciate you stopping by and "liking" it. I post lots of book updates there, both mine and those of my friends.




Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vote, please!

I haven't released a new e-book in a while, but I'm eager to do so soon.




The question is - do I write another Alex St. James mystery? I have about 60 pages started on DEADLY MESSAGES and I'm eager to explore some big issues including whether or not she finally uncovers clues about her birth parents.

Or should I write a second mystery for Riley Drake (PLAYING WITH MATCHES)? She's a Chicago PI who does background checks for an upscale matchmaker.

Decisions, decisions...

Care to weigh in?
Have you read DEADLY BLESSINGS, DEADLY INTEREST, or DEADLY SHORTS?
What about PLAYING WTH MATCHES?

Which heroine would you rather see in a new adventure?


I'd love to know!!
Comment below or on my Facebook Author page HERE




Monday, July 02, 2012

What readers may not know about book publishing

I get emails from time to time asking me why I haven't released my books in audio yet. I also get strident emails that complain about things like the font in my books being too small - or that the e-versions of books aren't lendable. In almost every situation, the email-writers angrily inform me that they will *never* buy one of my books again. Reading these hurts.

I answer every email, no matter how furious the writer appears to be. Why? Because I get it. When I'm used to a certain font size, or price point, or availability, and that changes (and not for the better), I get cranky.

I totally get it.

The thing is - and this is what I tell every single person who tells me why they're disappointed in me - is that these decisions aren't mine. The minute I sign a contract to write x amount of books for either the White House Chef or Grace (Manor House) series, I give up certain control. For instance, I have no sayso on my covers. Believe me when I tell you I LOVE them. Every single one. I've been very lucky to see excellent covers for everyone of my Penguin/Berkley books. That's cause for celebration right there.

Look at this one, for instance  ---->
It's got lots of the story, right there. And it's beautiful!

But back to my point: I have no sayso on price, whether it be for a physical book or an ebook. I have no sayso on font size or format either. Right now my books come out as mass market paperbacks and ebooks. They're also (usually) released in large print, mostly to libraries. I've signed the rights to allow Berkley to do this. If some audio company were to approach us because they want to produce any of my books on CD or whatever, I'll start doing a happy dance around the room. But it's not up to me. Boy, do I wish it was!

That brings me to a new problem that one of my good friends is facing. Lorna Barrett (whose real name is Lorraine Bartlett and who writes tons of great books under the Bartlett name, btw), has the sixth book in her wildly popular Booktown Mystery series coming out tomorrow, Tuesday July 3rd. The title is MURDER ON THE HALF SHELF. The cover is below, but I'd like you to take a look at its Amazon link - HERE. What do you notice?

If you said that it's in hardcover, you're right. This is the first book in the series to go into hardcover. Lorraine is nervous about it. Can you blame her? That's a big jump in price and we all know how tough it is to stay within a book budget.

The Booktown Mysteries and Lorraine's other wonderful series, the Victoria Square mysteries (A CRAFTY KILLING is the first there) have tons of readers who wait impatiently for the next installment of the story.

But some people (quite a few in recent weeks, and even more chiming in today) have been writing to Lorraine, complaining bitterly that *she* has betrayed her readers by moving to hardcover. They accuse her of being greedy. Of "hooking" them with her wonderful stories and then raising prices by changing the format to hardcover.

As an author, I can tell you that the one thing that stays uppermost in my mind is keeping my readers happy. While that doesn't mean I always take readers' advice about my characters' romantic choices, I do care deeply that the reading experience isn't ever ruined for them. Lorraine, and all my cozy author friends, feel the same way. What do we want most of all? We want to be read and enjoyed. It's that simple.

Lorraine didn't betray her readers. Far from it. The publisher made the decision to move into hardcover. We can debate whether that was a good decision or not, but the point is moot. Lorraine's books are fabulous and deserve a wider audience. The publisher believes this is the way to achieve that end. We authors don't decide these things and when readers write to accuse, it hurts.

Authors at my level don't make a lot of money. This isn't a complaint. Far from it. My point is that we don't do this because we think we're going to suddenly get rich. LOL That would be nice, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. I'm doing what I love - what I've always wanted to do -  and I wouldn't give up a minute. Not even after the worst writing day. Nope. This is my passion, my love, my enjoyment. I'm lucky - so lucky - to be able to write and have people read my stories. It's bliss.

My point (in this very long post) today is to inform. You may have already known all this about the publishing world, but there are many, many people who don't. Please share this with them. I think it will help us all. I hope it will lead to less negativity. I tend to be Pollyanna-ish, but hey... that's how I'm wired.

And FYI, when a reader brings a problem to my attention (thank you, readers, for alerting me to Nook problems one of my titles), I tell my editor right away.

It's when the problems are deeper - when they involve format, or distribution, or pricing - I have no say whatsoever. You, as a reader, have a much stronger voice.

Please, if you want a book in audio, write to the publisher. Or write to a company that produces audio versions and tell them what stories you want to hear. If your bookstore doesn't carry the titles you want, ask for them. Same at libraries.

If the font is too small or the price is too high, please don't leave a negative review on Amazon or threaten to stop reading an author. He or she will be hurt - both personally and professionally - which is unfair considering those decisions are completely out of his or her control. If you feel strongly enough, write to the publisher. A thousand (polite) voices saying the same thing can make a difference.

Thank you. For reading this lengthy post and, even more, for reading my books. All authors ever want is for you to enjoy the stories we tell. Our characters are real to us, they've become some of our best friends, and there's nothing more satisfying than sharing their lives with you.

I'll go back to writing Grace #4, now...
Thanks for listening.


Julie

If you found any of the above interesting and you'd like to read more about what goes on behind the scenes, please read Lucy Burdette's recent Jungle Reds post about "The Care and Feeding of Authors"
as well as Lorraine's article about how readers can help, here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Helping Writers Become Published

The Midwest Writers Workshop is coming soon to Muncie, Indiana and I'm extremely pumped because I'm one of the faculty members this year. So excited!

Link to MWW site

The link above will take you to the Workshop's website, which can explain the four-day event in more depth than I can here. I'll be teaching a full-day intensive workshop on Thursday, July 26th called "Writing the Cozy Mystery Novel," which will cover everything from plotting a mystery, to using setting to your best advantage, to creating characters readers love. 

Friday and Saturday I'll be teaching three breakout sessions:

*Writing Dialogue in Crime Fiction

*The Voices in Your Head: When to pay attention, when to ignore

*Danger, Will Robinson! Avoid Mistakes that could get your Manuscript Rejected

Along the way, I'll be critiquing manuscripts and participating in conference activities. There are so many wonderful choices and fabulous faculty. You really should visit think link - Midwest Writers Workshop - to read all about it.

If you're interested in attending, don't delay. I think there are still a few spots open, but I can't be sure. I know a few people who are planning to attend... How about you?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Milwaukee Public Radio and Morning Blend Interviews

Did I mention our recent trip to Milwaukee? The day after GRACE AMONG THIEVES debuted, Curt and I were up there, just a few hours north of home because I'd been invited to be interviewed on the MORNING BLEND television program and on WUWM, Milwaukee's Public Radio station (89.7).

If you're at all interested in listening/watching, here are the links:

The WUWM interview lasted about 13 minutes. Wow! I loved talking with Stephanie, the host, because she was absolutely well-versed about the Manor House books and had some great questions for me. Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy discussing the books with people who've already read them? That's just the best!!

WUWM INTERVIEW

And... the same morning we taped that interview, I appeared on The Morning Blend. What a blast! Here's the link for that segment:

Morning Blend Grace Among Thieves

I'm home now, trying to get a few things done around the house (Curt's on vacation this week) and next week I plan to catch up on my writing. It's been far too long since I've visited with Grace and Bennett. They're in serious trouble right now and I need to give them the opportunity to get out of it!


Monday, June 11, 2012

Mug Winners!

Today I'll be contacting every reader who won a mug for writing reviews on Amazon/BN (reviews needed to be posted before noon yesterday). Thank you everyone!! You are the BEST!! I truly appreciate you taking the time to read and review GRACE AMONG THIEVES!!

Don't despair if you don't hear from me right away. Today's been a super exciting day because I just found out that I've been nominated for an Anthony Award! Woo-hoo!!! Winners will be chosen at Bouchercon in Cleveland, in October. I'm over the moon and answering so many wonderful congratulatory emails. So I may be a bit slow on the mug notifications!!

Keep the faith!

Julie (who is smiling like crazy today!)

Monday, June 04, 2012

I'm a Cozy Chick!

I have awesome news to share today! 
I am officially a COZY CHICK!!


Beginning this week, I'll be blogging every Thursday with my great friends:

Lorraine Bartlett/Lorna Barrett
Leann Sweeney
JB Stanley/Ellery Adams
Heather Webber
Deb Baker/Hannah Reed
Maggie Sefton
Kate Collins

I love these ladies and am absolutely delighted that they asked me to join their fabulous blog. Have you visited lately? Here's the link: The Cozy Chicks

There's something new to talk about every single day so don't miss a minute! And while you're there, check out the links, including the Cozy Chicks Kitchen Cookbook

My first post is this Thursday where I'll be talking about joining the blog and about my new book, Grace Among Thieves, which comes out..... drumroll, please....

TOMORROW!!

If you're interested in picking up a copy, here are some handy links:

Barnes & Noble
Amazon
Centuries & Sleuths
Mystery Lovers Bookshop 


Friday, June 01, 2012

And so it begins!

Book launch week starts with a bang!

I just found out that I'm featured on Jen's Book Thoughts this morning! She graciously invited me to participate in her Five on Friday feature and wow, was it fun! I hope you'll stop by!

This Sunday morning, June 3rd, I'll be a guest on Rick Kogan's The Sunday Papers on WGN radio to talk about GRACE AMONG THIEVES. I've been on Rick's show a couple of times and I have to say he's one of the most enthusiastic and informed interviewers I've ever encountered.

Author Bryan Gruley, whose newest, THE SKELETON BOX, comes out the same day Grace does (June 5th) will be part of the morning fun, too. I hope you'll tune in. Should be a blast.

We're scheduled to be on starting at about 8:00 (this is a change from what I posted earlier. Just received the update!). WGN broadcasts all over the place and here in the Chicago area it's 720 on the AM dial.

Later this week I'll have another appearance to share... plus Printers Row coming next weekend. Busy week! Nothing compared to the craziness Grace is about to face in Grace Among Thieves, but it will keep me hopping!




Thursday, May 17, 2012

Do you love cozy mysteries?

Do you love cozy mysteries enough to proclaim your affection for the genre on a shiny new coffee mug? If so, then you're in the right place!

I just love this mug, don't you? I think the colors are gorgeous and the fact that the mug features the cover of Grace Interrupted (second in the Manor House series) makes me love it all the more

I have not one, not two, but THREE of these mugs that I'd be delighted to give away. All you have to do to be eligible to win one is to write and post a review on Amazon for the NEW book, Grace Among Thieves before June 10, 2012. (See "What you need to know" below.)

It's incredibly important to get reviews up on a book's Amazon site early, and I'm hoping this incentive will encourage some early buzz.

In case you're wondering why I'm offering a mug with the second book's cover on it instead of the new one's, it's because this cover features little Bootsie. She plays a role in the new adventure as well, but she didn't make the cover this time (shh... don't tell her).

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

- GRACE AMONG THIEVES comes out June 5, 2012 and that's the earliest Amazon reviews can be posted.

- To get this cozy mug, please write an honest review (5 sentences or longer) for GRACE AMONG THIEVES and post it to Amazon before noon (Central Time) on June 10, 2012. (I'd be thrilled if you posted it to BN.com or elsewhere as well, but that's just an aside.) As much as I'd like to specify that reviews be positive, that wouldn't be fair. All I'm asking for is your honest opinion and that the review be *at least* five sentences long.

- As soon as you post the review *CONTACT ME VIA EMAIL* immediately and let me know that you've written an Amazon review. Include your snail mail address. I'll jot your information down. On Monday, June 11th, I will draw three names from those whose reviews were posted by the deadline, and get the mugs in the mail right away.

- The book comes out June 5th and the reviews need to be up by noon on June 10th. That means some quick reading, but it also means your chances of winning are very good. Reviewers who don't contact me via email to let me know about their post won't be considered, so don't forget to let me know!

- I will be at Printers Row in Chicago most of Saturday/Sunday June 9-10th, so if I don't acknowledge receipt of your email, don't worry. I'll respond as soon as I get home.

- Professional reviewers (those of you who receive books ahead of release date) are not eligible for this giveaway, but believe me when I tell you that you have my undying gratitude.

- Humble apologies, but U.S. addresses only.

- If the response to this is extra good, I reserve the right to give away an extra mug!


***NEWS***
I do have an extra after all - and I'll give that one away to a lucky reviewer of a BN.com review. Same rules apply - review from a non-professional, posted between June 5th (release day) and noon  June 10th. Email me to let me know you submitted a review and I'll pull one lucky name from all eligible entries.



GOOD LUCK!

Grace Among Thieves
Amazon
BN.com
Mystery Lovers Bookshop
Find an Independent Mystery Bookstore near you!

Thank you! Hope you enjoy Grace's newest adventure!


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Less than a month!

It's getting close! GRACE AMONG THIEVES will be out in less than a month! I can't believe it!

GRACE AMONG THIEVES
Third in the
Manor House Mystery series
Coming June 5, 2012
It seems as though I was just talking about my launch party for the last WHChef, and here I am I am announcing that the third in the Manor House Mystery series is out in less than a month! June 5th, to be exact. Wow!

I have to admit, though, I am *loving* my new writing schedule.

As I'm sure you've heard by now, I signed contracts for three more Grace books as well as for three more WHChef. Woo-hoo!! The best part of that news is that I've been able to get my deadlines a bit more spread out. Instead of having books due three months apart and then having nine months of the year where no books are due, I now have them spaced six months apart.

WHEW!!!

I won't have a traditional launch party for Grace Among Thieves because the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Literary Festival is that exact same weekend in Chicago. I'll be there, at the Mystery Writers of America tent, as well as on a panel (probably at the library, but I'm not positive yet).

As I mentioned in my most recent newsletter, this new book Grace Among Thieves, my be my favorite book of those I've written. I hope you like it, too! (If you didn't receive a newsletter, email me:  JulieHyzy (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know.

I'll have more news later... LOTS more. Yep, I'm holding back for the moment. Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Waiting for Peter Tork

When I was a little girl, I adored the Monkees. Absolutely loved their zany adventures and even though it seemed as though everyone else went ga-ga over Davy, it was Peter who captured my pre-teen heart.

I might have been a bit young for a real crush when the show originally aired, so I imagine I got caught up in reruns. No matter. At some point my family bought me an album - The Monkees HEADQUARTERS.

I hadn't heard most of the songs on the Headquarters album, and my all-time favorites at that point, the "Here We Come" theme song and "I'm a Believer" weren't even on it. But I loved the cover. I thought Peter, mugging for the camera and goofing off, was just the cutest. This was my first album, ever, and I hurried to play it on one of our many record players. My brother was (and is) into fixing things, so we always had bunches of electrical goodies around.

I liked the songs. All of them. So I played it again. And again. And again.

I grew to love "Shades of Gray." I thought it was so deep. (You know?) So. Deep.

And then, I came up with what I *knew* was the most genius idea ever. Even though it wasn't on this particular album, I remembered that the Monkees theme song promised that "you'll never know where we'll be found," and "we're maybe coming to your town."

To a young girl, this was opportunity! I took to playing Headquarters at the loudest volume imaginable. Why? Firstly, because I knew, I just knew, that at some point the Monkees would come to my town. They would walk past my house and -- when they heard their music being played -- they would naturally stop in to say hello. And secondly, because my mom made me play the record in the basement, I needed to really crank it up if I expected it to be heard outside.

Now you have to understand, I played one side, flipped it, played the other side, flipped, etc. There was no end. I didn't want to miss my chance because it might be today that they walked by. Or tomorrow...

Anyway, with the recent loss of Davy, I've been thinking about the Monkees more lately, remembering how much enjoyment they brought me oh-so-long ago. I have a photo from a friend here, hanging over my desk. She took the pic at a concert about a year ago (Peter, Davey, Mickey only). I recently checked out their images online. So what if he's 70 years old now? That Peter is *still* so cute.

I pulled out a CD collection my brother gave me for a birthday a few years back. It's a great collection, a huge multi-disk set, but it doesn't have a couple of the more unusual offerings of Headquarters, like "Zilch" and "Band 6" but Headquarters is available online. Found it at BN.com and ordered it a couple of days ago. It showed up this afternoon.

My favorites have changed and shifted through the years. I think my current favorite is "You Just May be the One," because I remember my mom singing it when I finally came back upstairs after hanging in the basement all day. She'd roll her eyes and chant "All men must... have someone" over and over,  doing a little dance, claiming she'd still be hearing that song in her sleep. Memories of mom are always great and I realize just how incredibly indulgent and patient she and my dad were with me (us). My childhood homelife was wonderful and the Monkees (whether they knew it or not) were a part of that.

Oh my gosh - "Mr. Webster" is on now - I'd forgotten about that one. Kind of a mystery story, with a fun little twist at the end.

Yep, I'm playing the new CD as I type. The Monkees' music never fails to lighten my heart and make me smile.

Plus, you never know. Peter may happen to walk by.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Good day, with sunshine

We've got sunshine now even though it's supposed to rain today and I'm in a very happy mood. Why? Because I got yet another ridiculous spam text/email on my phone last night, about an hour after I'd fallen asleep. Woke me right up and I had a hard time getting back to slumberland again.

Then, at 5:30 this morning, about fifteen minutes before the alarm was supposed to go off, my husband's phone received a similar text.

Ack!!

And seriously - does anyone sending these messages really believe that a person is going to rouse from sleep and say "Whoa!! Look at this great spam I got. Lucky me!! Let me go visit that website/send a reply text/whatever before I go back to sleep!"

I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you that it isn't happening here.

Before anyone suggests that we simply shut our phones off at night, please remember that we're the parents of three daughters and currently not one of them lives at home. We need to be reachable at any hour any day.

So... with all that angst, why am I happy?

Because I finally figured out how to block the crazy texts! I've looked for solutions online in the past, but I guess I was using the wrong keywords. Today, I found my answer! And I just ran a test, trying to recreate spam to my phone using filters I set up. Woo-hoo!! The test proved that the new system is working!! Very excited!

I know this is not exactly book news, but I'm in a very good mood today for lots of reasons and I just had to share this one.



Monday, April 23, 2012

Cozy Chicks

In case I've forgotten to mention lately, I'm blogging with THE COZY CHICKS on Mondays for a little while, until Kate Collins comes back to resume the Monday spot.

Here's the link: Cozy Chicks

- What else is new? I'm working on Grace #4 (tentatively titled GRACE ON A PLANE)
- I've sent out all the bookmarks requested by readers. If yours haven't arrived yet, let me know.
- I'm having lunch tomorrow with an author friend which means I'm actually getting out of the house on a weekday. That happens so seldom and yet, I met another friend last week for lunch, too. Weirdest part? Two different friends chose the same restaurant! Good thing I like this one!
- On a personal note, we're still deep in basement-cleaning mode. We came to a bit of a standstill yesterday, but it's a good place to be. Looking forward to the girls being home so they can go through some of the piles we left for them.
- Had a lovely visit at the Lisle Library on Thursday. The good news is that I love visiting libraries, the bad news is that I've got a packed summer and I've had to turn so many down lately.

When I called up this site today, I realized that Blogger has a new look for posting. I'm just test-driving it now.

We'll see how this goes!

Don't forget to visit The Cozy Chicks!

~until next time




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tonight!

Last-minute here! I forgot to post this (I meant to, but the week got very busy). Oops!

I'll be at the Lisle, IL library tonight! Very excited to talk with the Murder Among Friends book discussion group and other Lisle Library patrons!

All the details here:
TRIBLOCAL 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Million Dollar Idea!!

First in the
White House Chef
Mystery series
Hey, Marriott, Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Waldorf, Westin, Sheraton, and other upscale hotel groups: I have a million dollar idea for you that came from my musings as I plotted my next WHChef mystery: 

Build a hotel in that's a replica of the White House! 

Genius idea, isn't it?

Don't skimp on the details - make it a real destination. Keep it as authentic as possible, with guest rooms in the "East" and "West" wings, as well as the President's suite and the Lincoln Bedroom, of course. I bet you'd sell out every night.


I'd book a room there, for sure.


Have fun with the idea ...


Oh, and keep me posted! 

Monday, April 09, 2012

Saturday in Menasha, Wisconsin!!

Hey, by the way, if you're in Wisconsin, there's a wonderful book festival going on this week - The Fox Cities Book Festival. It begins April 11th through the 18th and I'm doing two presentations there on Saturday, April 14th:

From White House Chefs to Museum Curators: Creating Memorable Characters at the Menasha Public Library
and
An Author Presentation and Q&A at the Fox Valley Technical College Library.

I hope you can be there for one of these events! Let me know if you'll be there!

Best,
Julie

Blogging on Cozy Chicks

I'm very excited to be blogging with THE COZY CHICKS on Mondays now. This is a temporary gig, but I wanted to mention it here in case anyone was wondering why I've been so quiet of late.

Come by and visit - If you haven't met the Cozy Chicks before, you're in for a treat!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Woo-hoo! Monday Morning

Don't get me wrong, I do love my weekends, but Mondays dawn chock-ful of promise and potential. Every Monday I look at the calendar and plan for how many real "writing days" I have ahead of me during the week. This week, for instance, is Spring Break for my kids and I'll have all three daughters home at some point (though not all three at once). That means limited writing time, but all three prefer sleeping late I like to get up early, so I should be able to keep the word count flowing.

Right now I'm working on Grace #4, tentatively titled GRACE ON A PLANE. I'm experiencing a slow start (so what else is new?) but I think I have a good idea of where the story is going and I hope to pump out lots and lots of words this week. The best part is that once the story is there, it's so much easier to see it, and to feel what's right. Until I get those words down, everything is iffy.

Speaking of getting words down, I realized a couple days ago that it's been ten years (can't believe it!) since I participated in a two-week Master Class on the Oregon coast with two fascinating, generous, and learned teachers: Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rush. Visit my personal FB page to see a photo of our group.

Ten years ago, we all converged on Dean and Kris's house (don't worry, we were invited), and we lived there together for two weeks while we wrote, ate, wrote, slept, wrote, and wrote. Those two weeks were life changing for me. I learned a lot about my writing and about myself. I discovered that I could write a 3,000 word story - every single day - while also critiquing my colleagues' work, while also completing a grammar assignment and a technique assignment.

Those two weeks were wonderful. Even at the time, suffering from lack of sleep, oddball eating hours, and the stress of making every daily deadline, I knew this was the best thing that had ever happened to me in my writing life. I still believe that.

We were out there from March 2 - 17th, if I recall correctly, so it's been exactly ten years. The time has flown, and I dearly miss the only participant no longer with us - Ken Rand. Although most of us keep in touch (a little with some, a lot with others), Ken and I kept in touch more often, emailing daily after he was diagnosed with a terminal disease, until he died. I miss him a great deal.

Anyway, this Monday morning, I'm planning my plotting, thinking about Ken, thinking about my Oregon adventure, and looking forward to a good week of words.

What do you have planned?

By the way, I'm transitioning from a FB personal page (where I think I drive friends and relatives nuts with all the book talk) to an author page. I'm still keeping the personal page current with book news for now, but I'm hoping to make the change over the next few months. To that end - if you're interested in book news, please "like" my Facebook Author page at this LINK.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

When chocolate and flowers aren't enough...Love Is Murder!

I hope you're planning to attend Love Is Murder, the fabulous mystery conference!

The conference begins THIS FRIDAY, February 3rd and runs through Sunday, February 5th. Yes, it's Superbowl Sunday, but Love Is Murder laid claim to that weekend first, years ago!

Anyway, take a look at the headliners and at all the wonderful events planned by visiting the website here: LOVE IS MURDER 

Because this mystery conference is being held in Chicago (okay, Rosemont. Close enough), and the organizers are lovely, kind-hearted people, they've named me Local Guest of Honor for this year's festivities. I'm very excited.

If you're in the area Thursday evening (checking in early, perhaps, or you simply live nearby) please stop by the book signing event from 5:30 - 7:00 at the Intercontinental Chicago O'Hare (beautiful hotel!). I'd love to see you!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Coming Up: Aunt Agatha's!

Yesterday's event in Palos was *wonderful* - I had the best time and I hope everyone who attended did too. Fabulous lunch, lots of laughs, familiar faces, and new friends! You can't beat that!

Coming up next is AUNT AGATHA's in Ann Arbor, Michigan! I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to visit. If you're in the area, I hope you stop by!

Here are the details:


Saturday, January 28, 2012
2:00 PM 


Aunt Agatha's Bookstore

213 South Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan
734 769-1114

I'd love to see you there!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Next event: Palos Park, IL - The Center


January 17, 2012
12:00 - 2:00 PM
The Center
Palos Park, IL


Scroll about halfway down the newsletter for details about TUESDAY LUNCHEONS
This is a luncheon, and there is a fee to attend. 
Reservations are required: 708 361-3650 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Today's book event!


January 14, 2012 

1:00 - 3:00 PM
ELA Public Library
Lake Zurich, IL
with Jamie Freveletti, David Walker, Bryan Gruley




Monday, January 09, 2012

Pictures from launch (and info on next event)!

Woo-hoo!! Thank you, everyone, for coming out to my launch party on Saturday. It meant so much to me to see so many wonderful people there! Thank you!!

Here are a few pictures from the party... and immediately following, information about Thursday's event:






So much fun. Thank you to EVERYONE who came out to talk, mingle, pick up a book, and say hello. You all made this party absolutely wonderful!

My next January event is Thursday, January 12th

I'll appear live on the TV show LIVING WELL, on WMBD, a CBS affiliate from 3:45 - 4:15 PM, where I'll be talking about the new AFFAIRS OF STEAK, and other books.
Hope you can tune in and watch!

Then, that evening, I'm speaking at the Peoria Public Library (North Branch) at 6:30 PM
Here's a link with more information:
Peoria Public Library

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

January Appearances for AFFAIRS OF STEAK

You're invited!
January 7, 2012 
**This Saturday**
BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

Books, wine, snacks...
1:00 - 3:00 PM
Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore
7419 W. Madison
Forest Park, IL 60131
708-771-7243