Monday, June 30, 2008

Thank you, Oline!

"These are darn good mysteries." – says Oline Cogdill, mystery columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Make my day, why don't you, Oline!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Remembering to forget...

It's not like I don't have enough on my plate. I've got the revisions of "Probable Claws" to finish up (luckily, my editor is on vacation, which gives me some breathing room). And I've got my summer writing class to teach. But my agent is sending out my non-Theda manuscript this week, and so the time feels right to start on an entirely brand new project.

Sometimes, this part is easy. On Saturday, sitting at a cafe in Harvard Square, I started writing notes and bits of dialogue. They came from nowhere. But once I finally sat down to type them up and enlarge on them, I found myself second guessing everything. Should I start with a simple scene? Not let the narrator intrude so soon? Was I rushing the action, or was the pacing natural?

At some point last night, I remembered: I can't worry about this now. I've just got to get what's in my head out on paper. I can fix it up later. Years ago, a friend quoted pub rocker Nick Lowe to me, saying, "Bash it out now. Tart it up later." But, especially while revising "Probable Claws" and after polishing up the other ms., it's so hard to turn off that internal editor and just write!!

Anyone have any advice?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wear your pet!

No, not "where your pet?" I mean, why not wear your pet as the wonderful ornament to your life that he or she is?

My friend Laurie has long pursued a variety of interesting crafts and arts, developing a real flair for folk art that looks (and feels) good. And now that she and her husband Ted have adopted a dog, they've discovered pet love. The result, as these pictures show, is PETS RULE JEWELS, a line of jewelry that incorporates images of your pets! A few months ago, when Laurie was still working out the kinks in the idea, she made me a pair of earrings with a photo of Musetta in them and asked if I'd wear them and let her know how they felt, how they hung, and what I thought. I loved them. They're light enough that I can wear them all day and night, they hang just right and catch the light. They're pretty. And at some point someone will go ... "wait a minute, is that your cat?" She's my friend, but beyond that, I just love these. And, yes, she does dogs, too. (That's Dolly, their adopted pup, to the right.)

The whole process is simple: Contact Laurie at and arrange to email her a picture of your pet. She will go over the details (sizes, etc., are at her website page), but they are VERY reasonably priced - and she's covering her own shipping costs for the rest of June.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Separated at birth?

Watching game 5 of the NBA playoffs last night, it occurred to me that LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant (far left) looks a little like a meerkat (right). Something about the eyes. Which makes me like Bryant more. Not a good thing for a New Englander, so, please, don't tell anybody.

( Find out which Meerkat Manor meerkat you are.)

Will Spitz, who works with my husband, just sent me this Pau Gasol/Llama comparison!

(Kobe photo Copyright: 2008 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Then again...

Tim Russert has died. He wasn't always perfect - who is? - but he was the kind of journalist we need more of. So sad. May he rest in peace.

Reasons to be happy...

Did you know Friday the 13th is actually a safer day to drive or wander about? A Dutch study tackled the topic and proved it true. And remember, to pet any black cats you might see, too!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The heat is on

Half past seven and the mercury is stuck at 94 degrees. I'm still trying to read through that non-Theda project. I like it, I do, but it's just too difficult to do anything in this weather that in any way resembles work. Did take a break to visit the lovely and ever courtly Bill Swartley, and not just because he has air-conditioning. (Bill turns 100 next week. Yay, Bill!) The heat is supposed to break tonight, but in the meantime, if you're looking for some cool, foggy relief, may I recommend Alan Furst's latest, The Spies of Warsaw," which I reviewed here? I'd like to offer you all my latest book, but it's not in any shape for anyone but me to read right now.

And in the meantime, some great news from buddy Caroline Leavitt. After all this heat, I cannot wait to really Breathe.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The numbers game

It's 90 degrees out and I'm trying to rouse myself to go back to revising the manuscript I put aside to finish "Probable Claws," while "Probable Claws" is with my editor. Wouldn't this be a great day to take a break? Yes, but as David Mehegan explains in this article, that's not going to happen.

Meanwhile, did anyone out there enjoy Elizabeth George's new "Careless in Red"? I wish I did, but as you can read here, in my Boston Globe review, I didn't.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The other redhead

That's me! To one reunion spouse, I am "the other redhead." (The primary redhead being the lovely Heidi Jensen) and it cracked me up. Because, you see, that's how Jon has been learning about the score of folks that he had to meet and hang with over this past reunion weekend. There was Beate, whose clothes were stolen in a Moscow bath (turns out that story wasn't entirely remembered correctly, but never mind, we had fun). And Muffy who had the guinea pig in the washtub freshman year. Loulon from Cajun country (who now works in New Orleans and NEVER goes out to hear music. How is this possible?) Eloise (who indirectly caused my drummer to break his hand - he punched a wall when they broke up, not her fault). And Mike and Jennifer, and Jeff and Tama, Liz and Greg, and and and...

It wasn't until yesterday afternoon, when I met another old friend Shelley (who always wore heels, but who did excercises to keep her achilles tendons from shrinking) for coffee, that I realized we all use the same systems, though. We met at Pamplona (which still exists, for which we are both grateful) and her sweet husband Ari came up and said, "Clea - the other redhead." To which I can only say, "Pleased to meet you!"

So, all in all, a very pleasant experience. Hi to any classmates or other old friends out there. So glad to have met you again.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Forgotten Books Friday

Let's hear it for Tubby Dubonnet! I first met this charming New Orleanian bon vivant under less than ideal circumstances. He'd chosen to stay in his Garden District home despite dire weather warnings about an oncoming hurricane, and soon enough he was stranded. That hurricane turned out to be Katrina, and following the breakdown of the New Orleans levee system, he soon found himself in a surreal world of stranded survivors, including, of course, an escaped convict.

I should explain here, Tubby is a fictional character, the creation of author Tony Dunbar. But "Tubby Meets Katrina," which a friend gave me, was my introduction to the charming gent, a true hero laboring for justice (and for the survival of friends and neighbors) in a hellish situation. I've since gone back and am working my way through Dunbar's Dubbonet novels, and in the spirit of Patti Abbott's Friday Forgotten Books project, I'd like to point readers toward his 1994 mystery debut, "Crooked Man," the first of the six previous Tubby Dubonnet novels, which now seem to be out of print. While these books evoke a more innocent epic, one of fishing and long lunches at Antoine's, they are also sly, funny, and very, very good.

The Dubonnet we first meet in "Crooked Man" does not have a strong work ethic, preferring instead to let his partner handle the heavy lifting. But he does feel a loyalty toward his roster of oddball clients – such as the Monster Mudbug, in trouble again because his Rolling Boiler parade float isn't licensed; Sandy Shandell, a transvestite stripper with a malpractice claim against her dermatologist - so when Monique, a sweet waittress/hooker who has gotten in over her head walks in, he gets involved. The ensuing story is madcap, silly, but logical enough to float, and Dunbar's local references are done with subtlety and style, with Dubonnet's relish of food and fishing woven neatly into the text, rather than the "He turned left on Decatur to get to Esplanade" variety.

Look for this book used or in your local library. Bring back New Orleans, and bring back Tubby Dunbar!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What kind of coffee are you?

At last, self analysis I can relate to, thanks to Blogthing.

You Are an Espresso

At your best, you are: straight shooting, ambitious, and energetic

At your worst, you are: anxious and high strung

You drink coffee when: anytime you're not sleeping

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Hey, what do you expect? I have just sent Probable Claws off to my editor!