Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

A very silly time waster just perfect for the holiday: Cat Bowling. And no, no cats were hurt. They were "spared." Oooh! What's your highest score? I got a 92, but after way too many tries.

Happy Halloween, especially to all the black cats out there. Which reminds me of the song, how does it go? "We're bringing kitty back..."

Presenting... Murray!

Congratulations and a big "thank you" to Jacqueline and Graig Fantuzzi, who won the right to name a cat in my next mystery. Their donation to Boston's Animal Rescue League will help pay for adoptions, spay and neuters, and tons of other great services to animals and animal lovers.

As a small thank you, their wonderful marmalade cat, Murray, will make his fictional debut in my next mystery. Isn't he lovely?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"Oh! Boston you're my home!"

... no this isn't the Standell's "Dirty Water." But, hey, they weren't a Boston band. Instead, here's a clip of World Series-winning closing pitcher Jonathon Papelbon doing his dance to the Dropkick Murphys' "Tessie." (My husband - a native New Englander - says he knows I've become a real Red Sox fan because even when the score was 11-2 I was still convinced they were going to lose. But we didn't!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Sample chapter Sunday!

Don't know where you are, but here in New England it's rainy and damp. A good day to curl up with a good book. Want to browse without leaving the house? The blog Reviewed by Liz has started offering "Sample Chapter Sundays," where mystery authors are invited to post links to the first chapters of new or upcoming books. Great idea, huh?

I'm joining the throng this week, and will be posting links to the first chapters of Cries and Whiskers and also to the excerpt of the new mass market (i.e., cheap) version of Mew is for Murder (This one doesn't lead directly to the excerpt: you still have to click on "Read Excerpt." Sorry about that!) Why not join us? Maybe you'll discover another favorite read?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This is brilliant.

Cats AND Crime AND Rock & Roll! Plus, if you listen to the end, a little lesson in cat care (keep that kitty amused).

Thanks to the mystery writers over at First Offenders for turning me onto this, "The Mean Kitty Song." (Have I mentioned? Musetta is also a foot biter.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Guest blogger: Hank Phillippi Ryan

To celebrate the launch of Hank Phillippi Ryan's second Charlie McNally mystery, Face Time, I asked Hank if she'd consider guest blogging. Despite an incredibly hectic schedule, which not only includes book promotion but also her regular serious news job over at Boston's NBC affiliate, WHDH-TV, she said, "Sure!" And within hours had sent me the following entry, which invites us behind the scenes of both her family and her mystery-writing process.

And, by the way, if I remember correctly from Prime Time, Charlie has a cat. So, without further ado, here's a peek inside the world of Hank Phillippi Ryan:

My mother is so mad at me. She’s in the midst of reading Face Time, the newest Charlotte McNally Mystery. It’s being released this week! I say: Hooray. So far, Mom says: I’m sure that’s lovely, dear. You can imagine the tone.

Mom is terrific. She’s almost 80, and is absolutely beautiful. An artist, a reader, a wonderful intellect. (She doesn’t have a computer, so she’s not reading this.) I’m her oldest daughter, and any psychologist will tell you that can cause some friction.

So anyway. Why is mom mad? She thinks I’ve “used her for art.”

It’s true: Charlie McNally’s mother in Face Time is a bit—persnickety. She’s opinionated. She thinks, for instance, that Charlotte might want to give up her very successful 20-year TV career to marry some tycoon and become a tycoon wife. No matter that Charlie is happy with the personal life (pretty happy, at least, for a 46-year-old single woman who is married to her job) and happy with her professional life (pretty happy, at least, even though she’s fearful she’s gong go be replaced by someone younger). Mom also thinks Charlotte (she refuses to call her Charlie, saying, “nicknames are for stuffed animals and men who play sports”) might want to visit the plastic surgeon for some face time of her own.

Now Mrs. McNally is not, I repeat, not, my mother. But in these days of controversy over whether books that are purported to be memoirs are actually true—I find myself fighting to convince her that my book is truly fiction.

It’s ALL MADE UP, I tell her. Yes, Charlie has a Mom, and I have a Mom. But I’m not Charlie and she’s not you.

Silence on the other end of the phone.

“Of course it’s me,” she finally says. “Don’t be ridiculous.”

So I’m wondering, do any of you have a problem with this? Do people “recognize” themselves in your books—and you have to convince them it’s a fictional character they’re recognizing? Would you “use” someone for “art”?

Or if you’re a reader, do you assume fictional characters are real people just put on paper?

And as it turns out—as Mom will find out if she’ll just get to the end of the book—it’s not only a mystery, and a romance, but kind of a love story between mothers and daughters. My editor said she cried. One reviewer has said she cried. (Which is odd, you have to admit, in a murder mystery.)

Yes, as authors we take elements of reality. Then we polish, and tweak, and exaggerate, and accessorize. But the fun is making up something completely new. Creating a new world. New characters and new relationships. And it’s ALL MADE UP.

Okay, Mom?

Hey, you said this so well, I'm going to send it to my own mom. Thanks, Hank!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dexter loses his rock 'n' roll...

At least, that's more or less the premise of Jeff Lindsay's wonderful new Dexter in the Dark, which I reviewed in today's Boston Globe. Is it a departure from the previous Dexter books? Well, yes, but what would you expect in the third of a series?

There's been much talk about serial killers as super heroes, but I think that Lindsay's jovial protagonist strikes home (so to speak) because he's such an Everyman. I mean, at times, wouldn't we all like to be like Dexter?

And, while you're here, check out this profile of Hank Phillippi Ryan, whose second mystery, Face Time pubs tomorrow. We love Hank and her sweetie husband Jonathon here at Chez Musetta!

Finally, I am so happy! Thank you, Publishers Weekly.