Monday, July 28, 2008

Not quite a mystery...

Well, ok, there is a small element of suspense in my short story, "Lady in Waiting," but there are no bodies and no crimes have been committed. Instead, it's a sweet, little mystery I've written for a book called Cambridge Voices, a collection celebrating the renovation of my local (Cambridge, Mass.) library. There's a cat in it, of course, and the story takes place on the grounds of the library. I'm looking forward to its publication and will let folks know how to purchase the book when it becomes available. Right now, though, a big part of the mystery is when exactly my local library will re-open. This grand, beautiful, and historic (opened in 1889) Richardsonian Gothic building has been closed for renovations for something like two years now. For a long time, it seemed like nothing was happening, but in recent months, we've seen them dig up the beautiful grounds for an underground garage, re-shingle the turret, and start to build the futuristic extension. But the organizers now say that Cambridge Voices will be published in early spring, 2009. So here's hoping!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fly, kitty, fly!

A genetic mutation – or the miracle of photoshopping? Either way, this amuses. Thank you, Caroline Leavitt, for sending it along!
Here's the link to the supposed news article about this Chinese winged cat, who supposedly sprouted wings to escape sexual harrassment.

Um, in other news, I've been busy with Probable Claws revisions and a bunch of outside projects. One of which involved me having coffee with Tana French in the Oak Room! I'll post more of that when the interview pubs next week.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Herding Cats

"Anyone can herd cattle. Bringing in ten thousand half-wild shorthairs, that's another thing altogether..."

Sometimes a metaphor needs to be played out. A friend alerted me to this ad a while ago, I've finally found it on Youtube

Friday, July 18, 2008

Help your cat find her way home again

To add a dramatic element in Cries and Whiskers, my heroine's cat, Musetta, gets lost. Turns out, she's involved in some foul play – but for a brief moment, my heroine breathes easier knowing that her cat is microchipped. If Musetta is picked up or turned in to a shelter, she'll be identified and returned. This is based on fact – my cat is microchipped – and I can't speak highly enough of this unobtrusive and vital technology. Well, it turns out that one company is making it easier for you to microchip your pet! What are you waiting for?

This post is taken from Darlene Arden's PerPETually Speaking blog. Darlene is a writer and radio personality, focusing on animals (and a member of my beloved Cat Writers Association) and she's right on the money here.

For longer than I count, dog owners have always turned over every leaf and stone searching for their lost pets. Cat owners, who were even more likely to allow their pets to roam seldom used to look for their lost felines, assuming they'd run away or found a new home. It's really hard to fathom that attitude these days although I suspect some people may still feel that way.
I now see nearly as many posters for missing cats as I do for dogs. Still there is a good way to help ensure that your lost pet will be reunited with his family: microchipping. It is becoming nearly as popular for cats as it is for dogs but we still need to make more people aware of microchipping, especially cat owners.

One microchip company, Home Again, has gone the extra mile for cats and their people, not only providing a safety net of microchipping but helping in another way as well. Home Again Proactive Pet Recovery Network has promised to donate $1. to the Winn Feline Health Foundation for every cat microchipped and enrolled in Home Again during the months of June, July and August. You still have time to take advantage of the company's generosity in helping feline health studies while taking that extra step to provide for your own cat's recovery in case he is lost.

While some cats wear a collar, a cat who gets loose can easily lose his collar and thus his tag as means of identification. Microchipping provides that added measure of security. If your cat is taken to a shelter or veterinary hospital, he can be scanned for a microchip, his number can be called in to Home Again and the owner will be notified.

It's sad to think that microchipped cats are fewer in number than microchipped dogs. It's a relatively inexpensive and painless way to protect your beloved companion. And by taking advantage of Home Again's generous donation offer, you'll be helping all cats have healthier lives through Winn Feline Foundation's studies which will greatly benefit from Home Again's generosity. They will be as generous as you are a responsible owner when you get your cat microchipped and enrolled in Home Again by the end of August.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Be a Wednesday Sister

We are sustained by our friendships, aren't we? Even the casual ones that only gradually deepen through time and proximity? That's the theme of Meg Clayton's The Wednesday Sisters, a marvelous new novel about women who meet casually, when their kids are young, and come to know and share their lives. Already, critics are recognizing its honest sentiment and fresh approach to real friendship: Booklist says, "“Readers will be swept up by this moving novel about female friendship and enthralled by the recounting of a pivotal year in American history as seen through these young women’s eyes."

Because the Sisters bond over books, its only appropriate that Meg has a blog called "First Books," where she has invited sister writers to share their stories. I'm this week's Wednesday sister, sharing my story of my two first books! What an honor. Thank you, Meg.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How far should we go to save our pets?

These days, we can get our kitties chemo or a new kidney, but should we? My buddy Vicki Constantine Croke wrote this thoughtful and well researched story for yesterday's Boston Globe Magazine, asking just how much is too much? Pictured is Boswell, a goose, getting anesthesia before his chemotherapy.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Agatha (not the award, alas)

Nice bit of news - my editor over at the Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading loves my introduction to The Mysterious Affair at Styles,, Poirot's first adventure, so look for my name to be linked to the great Agatha Christie when this new edition comes out next March. What an honor!

And, not to hog all the glory, Musetta gets her 15 minutes of fame on Galleycat.

Pet noir?

Just heard that my short story, "Dumb Beasts," has been accepted for Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Authors, to be published in November by Level Best Books, a multiple-award-winning small publisher up here in New England. I'm tremendously excited for multiple reasons.

For starters, stories from Level Best's last anthology, Still Waters, have raked in several awards, so I know I'm in fabulous company. And... while I was re-reading my story, I realized that I might have a germ of a new novel. "Dumb Beasts" features a pet psychic who "hears" animals' thoughts – and this helps her realize a murder has been committed. The animals don't talk to her like we talk to each other; they only note what is important to them, in ways true to their species. But my heroine has always been better with animals than with people, so she catches on pretty quick.

I'm now toying with a larger story along these same lines. I want to be true to the animals, and give readers a thrill, too. When I sent "Dumb Beasts" in, I described it as "pet noir." What do you think?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How not to write

Now, there are clearly Kathryn Harrison fans out there, but I'm not one of them. I just found While They Slept, her take on the Gilley family tragedy to be narcissistic and unnecessary.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Writers on writing

Maybe it's because I'm teaching writing again, but I love this interview between Ann Patchett and Elizabeth McCracken. And, yes, I stole it - as all good ideas are stolen - in this case from good buddy and excellent novelist Caroline Leavitt (at right).

Thursday, July 3, 2008

All About Agatha

Did you know Agatha Christie only received 25 pounds for her first mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles? And that wasn't even an advance. She only got that because someone agreed to serialize it, and that was her take.

I've been asked to write the introductions to two of Christie's novels; Styles, which introduced Hercule Poirot, and The Secret Adversary, her second mystery, which introduced Tommy and Tuppence. I got this assignment quite a while ago, but of course, I've just been reading, taking my time. But now they're due so I'm diving in. In addition to re-reading Christie's works, I've immersed myself in Christieana - from her autobiography to modernist critiques that defend her "formulaic" writing as a response to "formalism." (I'm not entirely sure I have that part right.) And another take that sees the detective story as post-modernist because of it's "double plotting." In other words, mysteries have the apparent surface story - and the darker, true understory, which we only glimpse as clues. This, according to one critic, " reflects [the post-modernists'] own highly self-conscious awareness of the artificiality of narration and the ambiguity of plots.”

Yes, I should be working on the new project. I definitely should be working on the "Probable Claws" revisions, but this is kind of fun!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008