Friday, September 28, 2007

A life in crime...

... crime fiction, that is. Sister Mystery Writers of America member and Agatha and Anthony award-winning author Rhys Bowen penned this poem, which wonderfully sums up the experience so many of us have on the road.

If you've ever wondered about the exciting world of book touring/signings, wonder no more:

If only you'd come yesterday, I'm sorry no one's here
It's always slow on Saturdays and at this time of year
Too bad tomorrow's Father's Day and everyone's out shopping
Too bad the heat is so intense that everyone is dropping.
You should have been here Friday night, it's always such a lark
We had a line around the block for Mary Higgins Clark.
I'm sorry that it's been so flat
Let's take your picture with the cat.

Rhys Bowen

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blatant Self Promotion (thank you, Booklist)

I promise, I'm not going to flood anyone's lists with this or bring it up too often in conversation. I'm just posting this here and at Crimespace because, damn it, you write a book alone, you sit around for months wondering about it, and it's just nice to get something like this.

From Oct. 1 Booklist:

Cries and Whiskers
Simon, Clea (author)
Dec. 2007, 260 pp. Poisoned Pen, hardcover, $24.95. (9781590584644)

Freelance journalist Theda Krakow is back with a cat story that is anything but cozy. When an animal-rights activist who cared more about wild creatures than people is killed by a hit-and-run driver, Theda is not particularly upset. She is busy covering the Cambridge, Massachusetts, club scene and investigating a new designer drug that is endangering both musicians and patrons. Her boyfriend, Bill, a homicide detective, is recuperating from a broken leg, and her cat, Musetta, resents the time that she spends with him. When Theda learns that the accident victim was rescuing feral cats during a winter storm, she decides to help her friend Violet, a punk rocker who owns an animal shelter, investigate. As she learns more about the tensions within the animal-rights group and the origins of the dangerous drug, Theda finds that she may have the biggest story of her career. It may also be her last. Simon has written a fast-moving story full of lively characters, both two- and four-legged. This series is highly recommended for mystery fans who love cats but who prefer to leave the crime-solving to humans.
Barbara Bibel
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bragging on my buddy (Boston rock)

OK, full disclosure: Brett Milano is a friend. But I'm still wowed and impressed by his new book, The Sound of Our Town, a history of Boston rock. Through lively anecdotes, interviews, and lots of fun facts, he re-creates the history of our little scene, from its now-forgotten doo-wop days, through the "Bosstown Sound" and the glory days of the Rat, up to the present. And the party the packed the Middle East club on Saturday gave us a ton of living examples, from Mickey Clean and Peter Wolf (of J. Geils fame) through Lizzie Borden, Barrence Whitfield, the Lyres, the Nervous Eaters, and more. By the time John Felice (of The Real Kids) took the stage to sing "All Kindsa Girls" with the Shods, I was overwhelmed. What a party! What a book!

And just in case you want to read some unbiased reports, here are the stories in The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald, and the excerpt that ran in The Boston Phoenix.

Congratulations, Brett! (Oh yeah, and Brett has a Maine coon cat. As far as I know, he has no criminal connections, though.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cats on wheels!

One of our great local shelters here in Boston, Animal Rescue League, has launched a mobile pet adoption van. When I had lunch with two of ARL's guys last week, we talked about this and I asked about screening. After all, for someone to take an animal in while it's still a cute kitten or a puppy only to bring it back a few months later, when it is considered less cute and adoptable, is a crime. But as this article makes clear, the ARL is being pretty good about screening. At any rate, they're trying -- which is why I'm contributing both a set of signed books and the right to name a character to their big October fundraiser "Moonlight Ball", and why we'll be doing a fund-raising event later this year. More details as they come together.

And, yes, this is where we got Musetta. This is what she looked like in those days:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I've been tagged

Cyrus, our eminence grisé:

Well, thanks to Caroline Leavitt, I've been tagged.

What is tagging? Well, it seems to be a form of blog chain letter. According to the rules, I'm supposed to list 7 random facts/habits about myself, here, on my blog. Then tag 7 other bloggers by emailing them and telling them, "tag, you're it." and then link to their blogs. Annoying, yeah. But Caroline is not only a friend but also a brilliant writer, so this gives me a chance to link (again) to her blog. And also to link to some other blogs that I really like a lot.

So... my seven:
1. I read my stories out loud to my cat. Really. She doesn't seem to care one way or another, but it helps me get a sense of flow. (And – yay! – I get a cat reference in.)

2. I'm an incredible homebody and get horribly homesick when I have to travel alone. Even though I have met many, many wonderful people (fans and other authors) at various crime fiction conventions, I invariably spend one night alone in my room, avoiding the bar and/or scheduled banquet, watching TV and talking way too long on the phone to my husband.

3. My favorite low-calorie meal for most of my single years was French cut stringbeans and tomato sauce. (My husband knows this, and won't let me get away with it now, but I hope this still counts.)

... man, when you've written three largely memoir nonfiction books, it's hard to come up with something that I haven't told anyone.

4. In times of stress, I re-read my favorite books from childhood. When our cat Cyrus was dying, I re-read "The Lord of the Rings" and the entire "Chronicles of Narnia."

5. I have a hard time driving and listening to music, at least when it's good. I was working at the Globe the first time I heard Sleater-Kinney's "Dig Me Out." I had to pull over and I was late for work.

6. I collect cat tchochkes. On my desk, I have a reproduction of a Benin leopard, a carved stone lion from China, a Southwestern Native American cat fetish, two winged cats (and a proper Singha Terbit - winged lion - in the living room), and a few other assorted stone, glass, ceramic, and metal kitties. No surprise, really, but did you know this about me for sure? No, you didn't.

(note: my cat fetish is much nicer than this one, but I don't have a photo of it.)

7. Because my mom always assumed that I knew things just by instinct (or whatever) and I was too embarrassed to ask, I learned how to use tampons by reading the box. Cosmetics, too. But you can probably tell that by looking at me.

God, am I going to delete these? Maybe. But for now... well, these sort of qualify as cats & crime & rock & roll.

Now to the tagging part: I tag...

Karen Schlosberg, Karen E. Olson, (who has her next Annie Seymour mystery, DEAD OF THE DAY, coming out soon WOOHOO!) David J. Montgomery (great crime fiction blog), Barbara Vey (a really fun book blog on Publisher's Weekly). And... I think that's enough for now. (Besides, Karen Olson's blog is shared by three other excellent crime fiction authors, Alison Gaylin, Jeff Shelby, and Lori. G. Armstrong. Go check out these wonderful blogs – and Caroline's, too!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not exactly crime fiction...

although there are several murders in this collection. But for once, considering the author's tendencies, I am truly grateful there are no cats among these 16 short stories! In case you can't tell from my Boston Globe review, I preferred Faber's novel, "The Crimson Petal and the White." But as I read more of his work, I have begun to think this fat, fun novel was an anomaly.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

World Literary Day!

Thanks to Oline Cogdill, who used her great books blog to alert us to World Literary Day – Today! Oline is the crime fiction critic for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, and she shares the blog with fellow critic Chauncey Mabe, chatting on a variety of topics about books, the literary life, publishing and more.

So how to celebrate? Read a book, today! (Though if you're here, you probably read at least a little every day.) Re-read an old favorite, and think about why you love this or that book so. Share a book with a friend.

How else to celebrate? Oline suggests sending a book to a serviceman or woman overseas, an idea I second. I'd also send out a little love to your local public library. Where else can you get the world, for free? Think about volunteering or making a donation. At least, thank a librarian today, in any way feasible. (I just finished a short story for a fund-raising and celebratory anthology to be published when my local public library finally finishes its renovations. I cannot wait! And, yes, I'll publish it here if they give me the ok.)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

First and foremost, she believed that even young readers could think, could reason, and wanted to explore. She'll be missed.

From the New York Times:
Madeleine L'Engle has died at 88.

(Photo by George M. Gutierrez for the New York Times)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Crime and communists... and no rock 'n' roll

When I was asked to review "Anarchy and Old Dogs," the latest Dr. Siri Investigates mystery from Colin Cotterill, I was thrilled. That glow faded a bit once I read the book; it doesn't seem quite as much fun as its three predecessors. That said, it's still better than much out there. And I hope my Boston Phoenix review directs a few folks to the series, if not this particular book.