Monday, May 22, 2017

"Some of my favorite things..."

"World Enough weaves together some of my favorite things: A good mystery, a flawed heroine regaining her mojo, and rock 'n' roll. Specifically, World Enougj is set in the Boston rock scene and alternative press scene in the mid-80's. Having been there, I can say that Clea Simon has done a beautiful job of evoking this time and place before Boston underwent a tech-fuelled makeover and when the Rat was the gloriously grubby place to be. Simon gracefully handles the transitions from past to present, as her heroine Tara Winton, a bored PR associate, tries to recapture the idealism and sense of community she knew back in her youth as a rock critic and club regular. Her obsession with the mysterious death of a musician from the old scene sends her down a rabbit hole where she finds that her memories of that time dont hold up to the reality her investigation uncovers.

Many fiction writers have tried and failed to credibly capture the rock and roll life on the page. Clea Simon, a former music reviewer herself, gets it exactly right."

Are you a Goodreads author? If so, you can read this review for yourself here. Another reason to join: WE ARE GOING TO BE DOING A GIVEAWAY SOON! Details to come!

Friday, May 19, 2017

A feel-good #FelineFriday story

Yay, Ringer! And thank you, Chloe! Click on the link for the feel-good #FelineFriday story about a cat who was trapped under the ruins of his family's house for two months – and the dog who found him. And, yes, the vet predicts a full recovery. Click here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Great story and eerily authentic..."

So says Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses/the Breeders/Belly fame) about my upcoming Boston rock noir, "World Enough." She should know – as a founding member of Throwing Muses, she was certainly around during the '80s club heyday that I've set the book in. Around ... but not necessarily in it. I remember the first time I heard the Muses. It was a weeknight at the Rat. A cassette tape of their songs had already started circulating, but nobody in Boston had heard them yet. The tape featured guitar noise and screamed vocals. On stage, they were dissonant and strange – not like most of the garage rock or punk bands playing then. A couple of people left, but two musicians I deeply respect (Johnny Angel, then of the Blackjacks, and Rich Gilbert, then of the Zulus, I think) were really listening. We came away impressed, but it took a while for the band to find its audience, as I recall. Now, of course, they're considered groundbreaking. Those first songs from that cassette, though, they are still some of my favorites... Thanks, Tanya!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fate and the Pulpwood Queens

I'm a music fan. Huge one. Used to write about it (a time of my life that forms the basis for my upcoming mystery World Enough). And one of my favorites is Lucinda Williams. I was listening to her a lot over the last few weeks, in anticipation of her show at Berklee Performance Center (amazing, she played for two hours...). And having just been to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I found myself singing along with "Lake Charles," about a mystery man who wants to return to the Louisiana city – but who is really from over the border in Nagocdoches, Texas. And in the midst of my singing and anticipation, I got a dream invitation. I have been invited to participate in the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend next January - a wild blast of a book party that friends had told me about but that I'd never been to. And guess what? It's in Nagodoches!

Coincidence, or fate? Who cares, let's just sing along! (And maybe I'll see you in Texas?)


"He had a reason to get back to Lake Charles
He used to talk about it
He'd just go on and on
He always said Louisiana
Was where he felt at home
He was born in Nacogdoches
That's in East Texas
Not far from the border ...."

- Lucinda Williams, "Lake Charles"

Friday, May 12, 2017

But do cats love #FelineFriday?

This just in! Researchers at Oregon State University have proven that cats love people – many of them more than they love food, toys, or catnip! Well, we knew that, right? (I find it telling that this report was actually released while I was away on vacation - now I know what Musetta was trying to tell me as she mewed and rubbed against me on my return.) Read the full report here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Revising

It's happened again, that thing where I wake up with a good idea for my work-in-progress. I rush to write it down, or to record it on my phone. And now I'm sitting down to weave it into this manuscript, which I hope will become the third Blackie & Care mystery.

So that's all good, right? Well, yes, except that I thought I had a finished manuscript. All the clues were laid, the action was written out, and I was even pretty happy with how I tied it all together. (If I re-read the climax and realize I'm holding my breath, I figure that's pretty good!) I'm supposed to be in the revising stage now. And this isn't even the first revision. I read the entire manuscript through last month, before taking a week of vacation. Now I'm reading it through on paper, supposedly just for things like awkward sentences or updated bits that somehow didn't make it in. I'm not supposed to be plotting at this point. But... writing is messy, I've found. And rewriting is an essential part of it. And so I'm working on this new twist, seeing if I can indeed fit it into the manuscript. And then, I guess, I'll be reading it through, one more time, before sending it in!

What is the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend?

And why will I be flying off to Nacogdoches, Texas, in January? This Writer's Digest article explains more about the world's LARGEST book club – and the annual party that I am so looking forward to being part of! When else will I get to wear my cowboy boots AND a tiara?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Texas and tiaras!

WOOT! It's official! I'll be at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in January! I have wanted to attend this wild and crazy book-club-cum-crazy-wild-party since I first heard about it (probably from the super-talented New York Times-bestselling author Caroline Leavitt, who has attended). Basically, it's a weekend-long fiesta of books, barbecue, and feather boas. And I'm only a small fry compared to some of the authors attending - this year, Randi Susan Myers, MJ Rose, and Alice Hoffman are topping the bill. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Check it out - and consider signing up. I expect it to be a blast!

And I think this means that I get to add this to my page for "World Enough," too:

Monday, May 8, 2017

"A most unusual team..."

"A most unusual detection team..." begins this review of As Dark As My Fur in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The piece goes on to praise the book's "combination of hard-boiled crime novel, feline fiction, corruption and even a touch of the supernatural." Why, thank you!

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Daze of Futures Passed...."

“Music-scene insider Clea Simon’s WORLD ENOUGH shows how the daze of futures passed on the Boston rock underground reaches into the present to stir up darkness. Makes me want to get out my old Aught Nines vinyl.” –Milo Miles of NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” Thank you!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy Bookstore Day!

It's Independent Bookstore Day today!

Why? To quote the website: Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

How can you participate? Why visiting your favorite indie bookstore, of course! And if you can't, consider ordering from one. Signed copies of my books are available at Porter Square Books and Harvard Bookstore. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Diversity makes us stronger!

We all know that a full spectrum of characters, people, and places are what bring our favorite books to life. Now the wonderful organization Sisters in Crime, of which I'm a proud member, is offering the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, a grant of $1,500 to help mystery writers of color get their start. Although unpublished writers are preferred – we want to give a newcomer a leg up! – one work of short or academic work will not disqualify applicants. Are you a writer of color dreaming of finally getting the mystery written? Do you know of someone who could use a financial boost? Read about the grant here and help spread the word.

Who was Eleanor Taylor Bland? Read more here:

Eleanor Taylor Bland was a pioneer in crime fiction. In 1992 the first in a series of crime fiction novels that feature Marti MacAlister, an African American female police detective who works and resides in a Midwestern American town that closely resembles Bland’s own adopted home town, Waukegan, Illinois, was published. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited a collection titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors (2004). When she passed away in 2010, she was one of the most prolific African American authors in the genre. With Marti MacAlister, Bland created an enduring and much beloved heroine who went against the grain of perpetuated stereotypes related to African American women in much of U.S. popular culture.... (continued here).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

You missed it?

Not to worry! Bookstores like Porter Square Books (pictured) have visiting authors sign stock. Drop by, call, or order online to get a signed copy (the bookstore web page tells you how!).

Monday, April 24, 2017

"I was enthralled..."

"This is completely different from anything I have read before," writes this book blogger about my As Dark As My Fur. "I was held enthralled from the beginning..." How nice! Read more here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A working #FelineFriday

Musetta is quite a stern taskmistress - and as I'm revising what I hope will become the third Blackie & Care mystery,she's keeping a close watch on me. What am I doing? Well, I'm giving the first draft a read-through for plot first - making sure that people only find things out in a somewhat logical order and that key clues are more or less discovered when they should be. This are very rough fixes. After this, I need to read it through to see how it READS. You know, the writing part! Oh, and I'm giving treats, of course. Lots of treats!

Happy #FelineFriday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"The innocence and wonder of those times..."

I gave an advance copy of World Enough to once and future Boston rocker Rick Paige​ (now the proprietor of the funky fun Atomic Dimestore​ in Hyannis) and he sent me the following message, which he gave me permission to share. Particularly because he is not a mystery fan, his response was extremely gratifying.

His response in full (unedited): "It was really engaging, I had a hard time putting it down. I buzz-sawed right thru it. There was one part that I really liked, when she's walking home from the club, and you write (paraphrasing), "Maybe this is what we love, the night", that scene just captured the innocence and wonder of those times with a little bittersweetness.

I'm not a huge fan of the mystery genre, so I'd hesitate to say I LOVED it, since it was, after all, a mystery. But I liked it a lot."

You can pre-order your copy of World Enough now by clicking here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Come get Cozy with us!

Celebrate Patriot's Day at Porter Square Books with a bunch of cozy authors. We'll be reading, chatting, answering questions, and giving away prizes – tonight at 7 p.m.!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday

Not all cat books are cozies, and not all cozies have cats – but I can promise you both on Monday at Cozy at the Cafe @PorterSqBooks https://goo.gl/ixrIZK
Monday, 7 p.m. Happy #FELINEFRIDAY!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

So honored!

Guess what arrived in the mail? Yes, my Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers Association, an international professional group dedicated to – yes – writing about cats! Both nonfiction and fiction writers are welcome, but of course this is for my 2016 mystery, The Ninth Life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cats on the web!

Where do you go for your cat information? One of my favorite stops during the day – for useful tips or simply a fun break – is Ingrid King's The Conscious Cat, which features everything from in-depth, insightful book reviews (thank you again, Ingrid!) to stories about a wedding with rescue kittens (the bride and groom are both vets and wanted to promote cat rescue, of course!). Ingrid also gets serious, with real-life product ratings of toys and cat care products, vet and behaviorist interviews, and much much more. Check out The Conscious Cat today. By the way, Ingrid's house panther is a Tortie - and she's the author of several great cat books, including Tortitude.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Happy National Pet Day

Yes, it is National Pet Day! Time to spread the message to spay or neuter your pet - and that when it's time for a new pet, adopt, don't shop. Now bow down and pay homage to your animal overlord (or, in this case, lady).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Black Cats Tell All

We all know #BlackCatsAreBeautiful, right? Well Layla Morgan Wilde, one of my colleagues in the Cat Writers Association, has launched Black Cats Tell All, a site dedicated to black cats. The site is going to have multiple black cat products and already has a beautiful Black Cat calendar for sale. Her site is a New York-based 501 (c)3 non profit initiative and all proceeds go to raise awareness and adoption rates for black cats. Check it out!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Page proofs

Do you write on the weekend? Well, no, I usually try to take the weekend off. This weekend, that means reading through page proofs. Because nothing says excitement like reading your own work for the umpteenth time and knowing that THIS IS YOUR ABSOLUTE LAST CHANCE TO CHANGE ANYTHING. Sigh.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday - and a celebration!

Happy #FelineFriday! I'm beyond thrilled to announce that my "The Ninth Life," the first Blackie and Care "chat noir" mystery, has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the Cat Writers Association. The CWA is a professional organization of journalists, authors, and bloggers who focus on cat science and behavior, and, yes, feline fiction. Each year, the CWA hosts a communications contest in which entries from around the world (yes, we are international) are judged by other professional members. Entries that receive a combined score of 90 or above (out of 100) receive Certificates of Excellence. Plus, Certificate of Excellence honorees are automatically up for a Muse Medallion. (I've already won a few!) Those will be announced on May 19. I'd love for you to wish me luck, but in truth, I'm already thrilled to be a winner. Thank you, CWA!

Can you hear me purring?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New England Mobile Book Fair update

According to the Boston Globe, people care – and are reaching out. Stories here and, even better, here tell of towns wooing the independent bookstore. As Boston Globe reporter Mark Shanahan writes, "The story of the New England Mobile Book Fair may have a happy ending after all.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The cardinal

Some poems write themselves.

The Cardinal

We were walking, talking about the dead
and their partners, who remain.
A grim subject for the bright spring day.
The flash of red offered relief,
and I welcomed the diversion. Watched it
darting toward the road and back.
Oh, look, I said. A cardinal.
We noticed, then, together, that it flew – or tried to
– toward the carcass of another,
hit by the heavy traffic and now still.
And so we waited, wincing at each passing car.
Until you could make your move,
picking up the sad remains to place them on the curb,
where I stood silent, my heart caught up,
by such respect for love.


- Clea Simon

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Inspired..."

"Simon is extremely cat-savvy to pull off this unconventional narration with such accuracy and feeling," says Mollie Hunt, of Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries of my brand new As Dark As My Fur. " I appreciate the opportunity to get to know Blackie and Care in this inspired sequel to 'The Ninth Life.'" You can read the full review here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Happy launch day to "As Dark As My Fur"!

Today's the day - no fooling! The second Blackie and Care cat noir mystery, "As Dark As My Fur" is officially launched! It is out now in hardcover and e-book versions, and you can read a sample, reviews, and more here at CleaSimon.com. While you're on my site, consider signing up for my newsletter (you can also do that here). Then you'll be up on all the latest – and be registered for prizes, too, like the $20 Amazon gift certificate I'm giving away to celebrate!

"perilously walks the line..."

AS DARK AS MY FUR "perilously walks the line between dream and nightmare," says Publishers Weekly, which also calls my dark new cat mystery "hypnotic." And it is OUT TODAY!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Black Cats Are Beautiful

Black cats are beautiful, but they get so little love. Black cats are harder to place in permanent homes, and they are more likely to be the victims of cruelty. Considering what gorgeous, intelligent, and sensitive animals they are, this is particularly harsh – and so I want to counter that hate by showing black cats some love! To celebrate "As Dark As My Fur," I'm inviting everyone who knows and loves a black cat to post photos, stories, tidbits, or links over at my author Facebook page. Let's show some black cat love! (This is Nuit, who lives with the librarian Jeanne who blogs at the Book Blog of the Bristol Library). And happy #FelineFriday!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Childhood inspiration...

What childhood favorite has snuck its way into my new Blackie and Care series? In the countdown to As Dark As My Fur, I blog about this over at Lesa's Book Blog.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Cat of a Different Color

Today, on Ingrid King's Conscious Cat blog, I talk about my Blackie and Care series and specifically why, after writing cozies for years, I've started writing a scarier kind of book.

"Sometimes a writer needs to go dark. Not as in silent, but as in dangerous. After close to 20 cozies, I realized that’s what I had to do. The cover of my new mystery, As Dark As My Fur, says it all: a black cat stares out, his green-eyed gaze intense. In the background, a tunnel seems to lead the way underground, further from the light. Indeed, this book – the second Blackie and Care mystery – follows a path laid out in the first of this series, The Ninth Life. And while I understand that not all of my readers will want to follow me here, I do hope you’ll listen as I explain why I’m taking it now, in this series...." Read more here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sign up for prizes!

YES WE ARE DOING A GIVEAWAY! What? You may ask? Sign up for my newsletter and enter to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday

Fans of my Dulcie Schwartz mysteries (like the new "Into the Grey") know that the Harvard Libraries are full of wonders (and some mysteries). I'm sure she would approve of this #FelineFriday share from the Widener Library blog featuring some whimsical cat-bird cooperation from a Polish children's book.