Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tonight! Cozy at the Café

Kick back after work, chat with some authors, hear some readings, and buy some books at COZY AT THE CAFE! Remember books make great gifts and with a lineup that includes Dana Cameron, Hallie Ephron, J.A. Hennrikus/Julianne Holmes, Liz Mugavero, Susan Oleksiw, Toni LP Kelner, Leigh Perry, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and ME you know we're going to have some fun! Tonight – Tues., Dec. 1 – 6:30-8 p.m. at the Trident Café, 338 Newbury St., Boston.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Start the countdown!

You know I voted for C.S. Lewis...

What are the greatest British novels?

I was one of the lucky non-UK critics invited to contribute my thoughts on this list, compiled for the BBC. The results will be revealed 10 a day until Dec. 7, when the Top 20 will be unveiled. Do you agree? What's your favorite that we left out? Let us know!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Shop Small Saturday

By now the food haze has worn off, and you're probably thinking about the holidays. (Chanukah comes early this year! And Christmas isn't that far behind.) Well, you can do good as well as purchasing good gifts by buying from an indie and, when possible, one that's local - keep that money in your community! And think about buying a book as a gift - what else gives so much pleasure for so little money? If you want something special, give a signed book. Autographed copies of my books are available at Harvard Book Store and Porter Square Books, among other stores* – and if you want a signed bookplate to insert into a book, please email me. (I'll personalize it, too.)

*I recommend calling to make sure you get a signed copy. If they don't have a signed copy on hand, order it, tell them you want it signed, and let me know – I'll go to either of these stores and sign your book before the store ships it out.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy UK pub day!

That's publication, though if you're in a pub, I'll raise one with you. After all, today is the UK launch day for my new, darker cat mystery, "The Ninth Life." The book, featuring a homeless girl named Care and the feral black cat who keeps her company, will be out on March 1 in the US.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Murder! Mayhem! Elizabeth George!

This must be the busiest weekend in crime fiction - Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee, a dozen different author events, and here in New England: Crimebake! With honored guest Elizabeth George! The festivities kick off tonight and continue through the weekend. (I'm on a panel tomorrow morning at 10:10 - Avoiding the Cabot Cove Syndrome, which, as cozy writers know, is quite a challenge.) I'm not sure how much of the partying I'll get to take part of – I seem to have some kind of cold-y, flu-y thing – but I'm still looking forward to it. Maybe I'll see you there!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Calling all critics (and book bloggers, etc.) - review copies of THE NINTH LIFE

It's up!! The e-ARC of my upcoming (March) mystery, "The Ninth Life," is now available on NetGalley. You have to register (it's free and fast) and request the book (search either "The Ninth Life" or me, Clea Simon), but if you review in any format, you will be approved and within 24 hours you'll have a download of my dark, new cat mystery. I'm so excited about this book and hoping you'll help me spread the word. Thank you!

Thursday, October 15, 2015


Recently, on Facebook, I saw a T-shirt that read: Writing is like riding a bicycle. Only the bicycle is on fire, and you are on fire, and everything is on fire, and you are in hell." For some reason, this is making the rounds among writer friends.

This week, I started revising my next Dulcie mystery, and now I remember why. Most days, I like writing. And I know revising is necessary. At times, it can even be fun – polishing that perfect scene. Retrofitting the clue in the perfect obscure location. Only, sometimes it's not. When I reached the end of the first draft of this manuscript, I felt I had tied everything up in a reasonable and satisfying manner. Only to do so, I had Dulcie remembering things that hadn't yet been written into the preceding pages and realizing the significance of comments that hadn't yet been said. So now I'm back at the beginning, trying to figure out not only where all those clues and conversations fit, but also revising several of my characters, now that I've reached the end and see what their real experiences (and, thus, motivations) are. In a way, it's like cleaning house after a wild storm has been through it. Only not only is a lot of the crockery broken and in need of replacement, many of the shelves the pots and pans belong on haven't even been built yet.

It is a tad daunting. I will not be daunted. Carry on!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sigh... (reading proofs)

Last week, I sent off the page proofs for The Ninth Life. It was excruciating, knowing that this was my last chance to make any changes in this book, which I love so much. Of course, at this point in the process – after editing and revisions, after copy editing – I'm not supposed to be making changes. I'm supposed to be looking only for actual errors (like when "Care" is spelled "Car"). Still, my publishers humor me, and I kept my changes to a spare 34. Only, last night, while I was reading an excerpt preview at the Curtis Memorial Library, I noticed that I used one word three times in a paragraph. And there would have been a simple substitution. Sigh...

Now I'm reading the proofs of When Bunnies Go Bad and wondering what I will miss...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Get ready for "Cozy at the Café"!

Maybe you've heard of Noir at the Bar, a crime fiction reading series here in Boston? Well, the lovely and talented Toni L.P. Kelner has decided that we gentler types should have our night out, too. And so on Dec. 1 (that's a Tuesday), she's called a bunch of us together for Cozy at the Café, to be held at the Trident Café on Newbury Street in Boston, starting at 6:30 and running till we run out (probably around 8:30 or so). Eight of us – Toni, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Dana Cameron, Susan Oleksiw, Hallie Ephron, J.A. Henries, Liz Mugavero, and myself – will be reading, chatting, and giving away some fun swag. Come join us!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

And still more kind words for "The Ninth Life"

I wasn't sure what Dana Cameron would say. I wasn't sure this multiple-award-winning author would even have the time to look at The Ninth Life, the first book in my new Blackie and Care series. But she did, responding with this:

The Ninth Life is a tour through a criminal wilderness of alleys and gutters, guided by a hunter as canny and fierce as they come. While Care is a smart, tough, and vulnerable young protagonist, narrator Blackie steals the limelight, showing us these dark places through his sharp feline eyes. A good noir tale will reveal a shadowy existence that parallels our own; Clea Simon goes many steps beyond, creating a terrific story that draws us in and makes us relate to a narrator whose life is a world away from our own.
–Agatha, Anthony and Macavity Award winner Dana Cameron

Wow, am I flattered! Thank you, Dana! And, yes, you can read more and pre-order "The Ninth Life." Please click here.

Friday, September 25, 2015

More advance praise for "The Ninth Life"

The multiple-award-winning Hank Phillippi Ryan also read an advance copy of my "The Ninth Life" and had kind things to say.

"A tour de force of point of view – the talented Clea Simon flawlessly portrays a main character the likes of which we've never encountered! With skill and style and profound understanding, she entertains readers with an exciting, compelling, and utterly unique adventure."
Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha, Anthony and Mary Higgins Clark Award winning author

Wow! Thank you, Hank!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Getting some advance blurbs for "The Ninth Life"

Joe Finder, New York Times bestseller, read an early version of "The Ninth Life" and was so kind as to send me this:

"Forget everything you think you know about 'cat mysteries.' The Ninth Life is a dark and gritty story of life on the streets, told from the unique point of view of a narrator who sees things humans can't. Clea Simon has given us a window into a world of constant and surprising dangers, frustrations and almost unbearable tension, and it's one I won't soon forget." -

Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer and Suspicion

Wow! Thank you, Joe!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My home site is now up to date!

Complete with a "books" page listing all my series books in order and lots of upcoming events. Please drop by and let me know what you think. (Click here for my home page.)

Monday, September 21, 2015

"Kittens Can Kill" "will have fans looking forward to the next installment." How nice!

Bella Online reviews "Kittens Can Kill" today, praising the "well drawn" characters who are "comfortable in their own skin" and noting that despite "many clues and red herrings, the reveal at the end was still a surprise." Overall, she concludes, "this interesting who-done-it will have fans looking forward to the next installment." Isn't that nice? Thank you, Bella Online! Read more here.

Friday, September 4, 2015

And I'm one of her favorite cat cozy authors, too! How nice!

"a good, engrossing mystery with interesting characters," says Socrates Book Reviews of my new Code Grey. "You can’t help but keep turning the pages to see what Dulcie does next." There's more, as you can read here. (And this is also one of the last chances to enter to win a free copy.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"A great story" 4 stars for "Code Grey" (thank you!)

Book Babble reviews "Code Grey," saying in part: "Ms. Simon writes a great story, with very interesting characters. The staff at the library, Dulcie's boyfriend, Dulcie's mother, and many others add color and depth to the story." How nice! Want to read more? Click here.

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Fascinating details ... very well done" Thank you!

The book blog Laura's Interests took on my "Code Grey" today, with an excerpt and a detailed, insightful review that says, in part, "I love learning about many different topics as I read cozies. Cozy authors research the most interesting minute details for us and find the most creative ways to work them into novels.
Code Grey relates fascinating details not only about academic and literary life but also about history of other importance. ... The writing is very well done." To read more, click here.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Who would steal a book?

That's the question at the heart of my new Dulcie Schwartz mystery, "Code Grey." It's also a question I discuss in my guest post in today's Omnimystery News. To read more, please click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

On writing with a cat (it's not all fur and games)

She may be my muse, but she can be a complicated collaborator. (I guest blog about writing "Code Grey" on Melina's Book Blog). And Melina calls my book "entertaining," saying it "kept her guessing." Thank you! Read more here.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Catch up with my blog tour (and enter to win a free copy of "Code Grey") here!

It may still be summer, but I'm busy with my Great Escapes blog tour – chatting about Code Grey, posting essays and guest blogs, and garnering some lovely reviews. My summer blog tour continues up till Labor Day. If you've missed any, you can catch up here.

Don't forget to comment – my lovely hosts are gathering entries for a book giveaway!

The Boyfriend Factor: romance and cozies

In keeping with the romance theme of Bab's Book Bistro, I guestblogged about "The Boyfriend Factor," and how I try to keep the romance – and the characters – fresh in my Dulcie Schwartz mysteries. Read more here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An interview by Truffles!

This interview almost didn't happen because the book blogger was going through some heartbreak. But the idea of a comforting feline ghost hit home, and so I agreed to be interviewed by the late, great Truffles.

Read more here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


This isn't even up on my website yet, but I just got the OK to share the cover of the first book in my upcoming new series, "The Ninth Life":

Introducing Blackie, an unusual feline hero, and his companion Care in the first of this dark new mystery series.

Three figures, shadowy against the light. That’s all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city – and I am a cat.

The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon’s dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love.

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this book. You can pre-order it here.

Permission to write badly... (my interview with Mayhem and Magic)

"When you hit a snag in your writing, how do you conquer it?"

That was only one of the insightful questions I fielded from Terri at Mayhem & Magic. This is what I told her:

"I give myself permission to write badly. I say – sometimes out loud – that I can write something utterly awful, something that I will just erase tomorrow, but that I have to write SOMETHING. I tell myself that it’s like letting the rusty water come out of the tap so you can get to the clear."

You can read the full interview here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"I think of 'Code Grey' as a love story to books..."

Here's just part of a long chat mystery maven Frankie Bow and I had:

Q. What kind of research did you do for Dulcie’s life and daily routine? Were there any surprises when you were doing your research?

A. By now, I know Dulcie’s routine fairly well! I never went as far as Dulcie did in my education, but I spent my years in the library as an undergraduate! For Code Grey, I did research both book conservation and stolen books. Did you know there’s an online registry of stolen books? The idea is that rare book dealers should check whenever anyone brings anything suspicious in to sell and they can check everything from watermarks to the provenance of various publications… Creepy, huh? The restoration part was incredibly fun – learning how conservators stabilize centuries-old paper and what ancient ink looks like after a few hundred years… I think of Code Grey as a love story to books, in part.

Read more here.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Kings River Life calls Dulcie "charming"! Thank you!

"Author Simon delightfully exposes the eccentricities prevalent in the Ivy League institution and deftly plots out an academic mystery." Wow, how lovely! Thank you! (To read the full review, click here.)

Great Escapes blog tour for "Code Grey" starts today!

I've got a full slate of interviews, reviews, guest blogs, and more for Code Grey.

Click through to my tour's home page for live links!

August 24 – Frankie Bow – Interview

August 25 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Spotlight

August 26 – Babs Book Bistro – Guest Post

August 27 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – Review, Interview

August 28 – Melina’s Book Blog – Review, Guest Post

August 29 – Laura’s Interests – Review

August 30 – Omnimystery News – Guest Post

August 31 – View from the Birdhouse – Interview

September 1 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too ! – Spotlight

September 2 – Book Babble – Review

September 3 – Lori’s Reading Corner – Guest Post

September 4 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review

September 5 – deal sharing aunt – Interview

September 6 – A Blue Million Books – Interview

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A dark, brooding new cat mystery...

Like cats? Like dystopian fiction? Want something a little darker? Can you wait until next year? That's when my new "The Ninth Life" will kick off a new series with Severn House. Here's the teaser we're sending around...

Three figures, shadowy against the light. That’s all I remember from my past life, as I am dragged, dripping and half-drowned, from the flood. My saviour, a strange, pink-haired girl, is little help. She can barely care for herself, let alone the boy she loves. And although she has sworn to avenge the murder of her mentor, she must first escape the clutches of drug dealers, murderers and thieves. I would repay her kindness if I could. But we are alone in this blighted city – and I am a cat.

The past is an enigma to Blackie, the voice of Clea Simon’s dark new mystery. Combining elements of feline fantasy and cozy whodunit, The Ninth Life introduces this unusual hero and his companion, Care: two small creatures in a nightmarish urban landscape, fighting for their lives, and for the lives and memories of those they love.

And yes, you can pre-order it here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Unveiling ... the "books in order" page!

Finally! Over at my home site, cleasimon.com, I have a page that tells you about each of the series and lists the books in order (with original publication dates). No more wondering if you've missed one! No more trying to figure out what comes next! Yay! Also, it's now mobile friendly!

Friday, August 14, 2015

"Really appealing" said the Literary Yard. Thank you!

The Literary Yard notes how unusual it is to have a mystery without a murder. But still, it says, "Code Grey" is "really appealing and keeps the reader engaged." How nice! Read more here.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chatting with the great Caroline Leavitt!

NYT best-selling novelist Caroline Leavitt had me over at her blog, Leavittville, to talk process and progress in fiction and life! Drop on by!

Monday, August 10, 2015

For the love of Mary Stewart

I had an unhappy bookstore situation yesterday that prompted me to write this for a mystery readers list I'm on. Then I thought, hey, may as well post it here. Are you a fan of Mary Stewart? Of another author who is no longer valued (or perhaps never got the respect you think she should have)? Read on!

I hope the list will allow me a little rant.

I am lucky enough to live in an area with several bookstores within walking distance, and one of my favorite weekend activities is to browse (and often buy) at them. Usually my browsing is very general. I chat with the staff (who know my taste), I look through the stacks. Today, my browsing was more directed. In a few days, I’l be heading to Cape Cod for a week, and I was specifically looking for a certain kind of involving read. I’m in the midst of writing, so I wasn’t looking for crime fiction. And I’ve finished the new Naomi Novik (“Uprooted”), which I’d thought would be a perfect do-nothing-for-hours-but-read, maybe take a dip in the middle type read. (Full disclosure, I’ve also torn through the new Daniel Silva, who usually brings one out just in time for my Cape getaway. I can read him without any risk of his work bleeding through into mine.)

Anyway, spent a good forty minutes or so at my favorite local indie without finding anything that really struck me. Toyed with “How to Build a Girl” and did buy Emma Donoghue’s “Frog Music,” which looks like a return to her earlier historical form, which I prefer. But then it struck me. I was in the mood to re-read some Mary Stewart. I had dug out “The Crystal Cave” after her death in 2014, and I thought “The Hollow Hills” might be perfect. But, alas, my local indie didn’t have any.

OK, fine. Smaller store with limited stock. I love them anyway, but since we are going away, I didn’t want to ask them to order a book that might not arrive in time. And, I’ll confess, I figured the big Barnes and Noble-run store two blocks away would have Mary Stewart in stock. Maybe not all her books. I mean, “Touch Not the Cat” wasn’t huge. But surely the Arthurian books, right?

No. Three floors of books – and this isn’t including the textbooks – and nothing. Best sellers by TV personalities. Tolstoy (in translation and not). And just about everything Phillippa Gregory has ever written, so they’re not averse to a good historical romance. But no Mary Stewart.

I went to the help desk and asked a nice enough looking gent – an adult, of at least 40 – if the store had any Mary Stewart in stock. No. I specified “E-W” Stewart, in case he was misspelling her name. No. Then I looked over and saw that he was googling “E.W. Stewart.” I explained that, no, I was simply specifying the spelling of her name, and it hit me that he had never heard of her. While I watched, he pulled up her Wiki page and turned to me. “It seems she died in 2014,” he said. “And she was nearly 100 by then, so her books aren’t really current.”

Well, no. I conceded. “But they were.” He smiled at me, the kind of smile that made me feel both old and irrelevant, and that seemed to have everything to do with the listing of one of my favorite authors as “Gothic Romance” and not of me as a potential client. And I left. And not until I was on the pavement did it hit me that I should have said, “But Henry James is dead. As are Normal Mailer, and Saul Bellow. And Goncharov’s “Oblamov” came out over a 100 years ago. And would you even be carrying Jane Austen if her work hadn’t been made into so many movies?”

Blech. It’s sexism, I say, and I’m sick of it. And then I turned to my husband and said I’m going to write rant about it. And he said, good idea.

PS - This is by my husband, in praise of bookstores:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"Fascinating" says librarian Lesa Holstine. Thank you!

Librarian Lesa Holstein reviews "Code Grey" today on her book blog. She begins, "Clea Simon takes readers into the world of scholars and book theft in her latest Dulcie Schwartz feline mystery,Code Grey. ... concluding, " a mystery involving stolen and missing books, is a fascinating search for answers. And, I'm particularly fond of one of Dulcie's new friends, a librarian, Mr. Griddlehaus. In Code Grey, Dulcie Schwartz and her unlikely team of allies uncover the intriguing mysteries that have remained hidden for decades on campus. It's a story right out of the pages of Dulcie's own dissertation."
For the full review, click here.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dru's Book Musing is "very engaged" by "Code Grey"!

Wow! Mystery maven Dru Ann says "Code Grey" "taunted me with clues that were presented in a manner that grabbed my attention and kept hold of it until the last page was turned." I hope that was more fun than it sounds! Read more here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Stolen books and restoring rarities: the real story behind CODE GREY

Lesa Holstine let me guest post today and I got to talk about the real story of stolen books and how deteriorating treasures are being restored. Feel free to ask questions! Read more here.