Friday, August 31, 2007

Criminal acts (by publishers)

Thoughtful blog by Carmel, Indiana bookstore owner Jim Huang (The Mystery Company) and small publisher in which he discusses the current state of mystery publishing (and bookselling), the ridiculous pressure from NY publishers to break out big from the start with a new novel, and why I have a "Booksense" link on my home page.

Buy your books from an independent bookstore, people. That is, if you want to be able to keep reading a wide variety of books!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Rembering Katrina

Hi folks,
It's a gorgeous, sunny, not-too-hot day here. But I'm listening to the New Orleans community radio station WWOZ online, and with the wonderful music they are playing, they are commemorating the hurricane and subsequent flood of two years ago. As a New Englander, I can only imagine what they're all still going through, but as a frequent visitor I know that the city is vibrant, strong spirited -- and still struggling. New Orleans needs our help more than ever, and if you don't know why, check out these books or Chris Rose's incredibly moving "1 Dead in Attic." Or even, to repeat myself, James Lee Burke's beautiful and furious latest mystery, "The Tin Roof Blowdown."

(and if you want to help, this link to the Tipitina's foundation makes it easy. Or... for the cat tie in, Animal Rescue New Orleans)

Be well, all.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No cats at all...

Just my latest review covering a different area of interest, mental illness and memoir: my San Francisco Chronicle review of Elyn Sach's memoir, "The Center Cannot Hold."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1 cat, 1 three-legged raccoon, lots of crime...

I love crime fiction and I love Louisiana music, so it makes sense that I'd love James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux series, right? Therefore, it should be no surprise that I've been blown away by Burke's latest,"The Tin Roof Blowdown." What did surprise me is how many serious issues he raises in this smart, atmospheric mystery set during and immediately after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita played havoc with New Orleans and Southern Louisiana. Corruption and neglect, both local and national. He brings it all in. Read it for the story, for the writing, for Tripod the raccoon and Snuggs the cat. Read it for the politics. A wonderful book.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Cat Underground Railroad?

A most interesting newspaper article in my hometown paper today talks about an "underground railroad" for pets facing euthanasia in shelters. I gather the idea is not unique, and often includes transporting unwanted animals to new owners who will love them, but who could not afford the transportation costs. It's a great story, and certainly heart-warming. Of course, it would not be necessary if we could take a two-pronged preventive approach: Educating pet owners and giving them affordable spay/neuter options, and also supporting community trap-neuter-return programs to lower the number of feral animals. (Is that three?) Anyway, read it and rejoice in the happy story of Jasper and Jillian. And let me know what you think!

Of course, the mystery writer in me is also considering the fiction potential of this story... there are plenty of possibilities here ... any that you'd like to see in print?

Cats Jasper (left) and Jillian with their new owner Sally Holland (right) and friend Kelly Curtis. The photo was taken when the cats reached Maine, before they were driven to Canada. (Photo courtesy of Sally Holland)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

But what about crime?

Faithful blog readers may be wondering, where's the crime?
If I've been cat happy lately, readers, it's not because death (fiction) has taken a holiday. I'm actually hard at work on a mystery project (hinted at a bit lower down), and I hope to be able to tell you more in a few months. A few months?!? Yes, that's how publishing works, kiddos – glacial compared to everything else in this electronic world. But there is a new mystery in the works, and the start of another, too, on the back burner until this one is drafted. I may be breaking format a bit on this one, too, but as a writer and a cat lover, I'm too superstitious to want to write more.

Besides, the next Theda Krakow will be out before you know it! Cries and Whiskers will hit the stores in late November – and as we all know, books make more gifts!

So, until then, enjoy the cat trivia. Crime fiction is happening, behind the scenes, even as you read this...

It was inevitable...

The outing of Oscar has led to the revelation that there are other "death cats," like this cutie, Buckwheat, resident cat in a Seattle nursing home. Now, I prefer "change-of-state-sensitive cats," as a label, myself. But hey, I'm keeping my eye on Musetta. Everytime she jumps on the bed...