Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Okay, this may finally be just too odd. But click on it anyway – and happy holiday to all of you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A last gasp...

Well, I no longer have a column. But the new, redesigned Globe did allow me to sneak in an interview with jazz DJ Jeff Turton today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What we're doing wrong...

I got the email on Friday. "Help! I've done my words for the day Рbut now I'm beginning to see everything I'm doing wrong with this book." And it hit me, that's exactly how I feel, too! Now that I'm deep deep into the first draft of my pet-psychic mystery, I'm seeing things I should have done differently, asking myself questions that I should have considered from the start. My pet psychic is a grouch, a hard-boiled bad girl who just happens to be able to talk to her cat. So... would she eat meat (after all, her cat does)? Or would she be a reluctant vegetarian? How much would that bichon fris̩ resemble his gossipy owner? And would the kitten really be that clueless?

These are the questions that are only occuring to me now, 60,000 words in. But what I keep reminding myself is that this is a first draft. A rough draft. Supposedly the novelist Frederic Barthelme dictates his first drafts into a tape recorder, needing simply to create some raw text to work with. Supposedly the fact that these questions are surfacing now is a good thing. After all, I'll get to respond to them on the rewrite. I hope.

(and on the good-news side: I've hit 60,000 words!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pie eyed

I love to cook. Love it, but I'm not a baker. I have a theory that we're different types of people. Bakers have to be scientists. The chemistry of cakes rising, of baking powder and glutens, depends on exact measures. On precision. I'm not like that. I'm an improviser, an "I'll just add a touch of this, a sprinkle of that"-type chef, happiest with a simmering pot on the stove top. But next week, I've been called on to provide desserts. For starters, my mom (who we're seeing on Wed.) wants a mince pie. Then (on Thurs.), we're visiting Jon's family. I know I can do a good pecan pie (they're pretty basic) and I thought I'd throw in some good bittersweet chocolate pieces to jazz that up. And I like my own pumpkin pie, because I like to add ginger and cloves, etc. But apple pie – anything with a double crust – frankly scares me, and I've spent the morning on Epicurious and related sites trying to conquer my particular kitchen demon.

Any good recipes you'd care to share? Any kitchen terrors you'll own up to?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My dream

So, last night I dreamt that Musetta was blogging for Obama. Didn't matter that the election was over. She was at the computer at all hours, and she had all these piles of papers (research) around her, the phone was ringing, and people were bringing her news items at all hours. I wanted to be supportive, but it was sort of disruptive.

What's up with that?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Probable Claws is coming out this spring! I've got a great cover and the book is now available for pre-ordering on Amazon,, and through the Poisoned Pen Press website. I've also got some advance copies and would love to offer them to readers. So here's the deal: If you can answer the following question (answer can be found on my home site) and you will commit to sharing your opinion of "Probable Claws" in a chat group, blog, or on Amazon by April 1, you could win an advance copy! (Note: These advance copies only have a plain cover, and they still have lots of typos.) I'll choose three winners at random from everyone who emails me beween now and Nov. 27.

QUESTION: What was the name of my "eminence grisé"?

Email me your answer – and your pledge to read and review the book by April 1 – and best of luck!

Monday, November 10, 2008

"Bar'king up the wrong tree?"

Sheesh! That said, my buddy, animal expert Vicki Croke, and her wolfhound Tally weigh in on President-elect Obama's possibly puppy choices.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's a pet psychic supposed to do?

Ever wonder if our animals know more about us than we'd like them to? Ever wonder if they'll talk? That's the idea behind "Dumb Beasts," my first pet psychic short mystery. It's just one of the short stories in the brand new Deadfall: Crime Stories by New England Writers, which is just coming out now.

Order Deadfall here.

John Leonard

Alas, the great, smart, funny, liberal critic John Leonard has died today. Gawker has the obit.

I know Michael Crichton also passed this week, but I didn't post anything. Partly because with all the election euphoria, I didn't want to. Partly because I have mixed feelings about Crichton. Granted, I loved him when I was younger. I remember the film version of "The Andromeda Strain" scaring the pants off me (though, a few years ago when I rented it, it had aged very badly). But in recent years, he'd gotten weird and cranky. We're all entitled to some extent, but writing an anti-global-warming novel? When you're a scientist?

Leave it at this, I'm sorry for his family. And I'm really going to miss John Leonard.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today's the day

Just vote, and you'll have done your job today.

"I'm not voting, cause there ain't gonna be no change until Jehovah comes." That was what one older Floridian told me when I called to prompt her to vote today. I started to argue, then realized, well, she probably isn't registered. And odds are, she wouldn't vote for my candidate anyway!

Anyone else out there phone banking or calling from home*, canvassing, or whatever? Anyone have any horror stories about waits at the polls? (Even here in liberal-lefty Cambridge, there's a wait! But a short one, about 25 minutes.) Anyone see someone get turned away?

*If anyone wants the info for calling voters from home, email me!

Monday, November 3, 2008

How We Do It: Two Writers Talk Technique

This month's shared blog focuses on friendship and jealousy between writers. As always, Caroline has a great take. You can see mine on her blog

Writers need support—and other writers. But what happens when your friend gets that 6-figure deal and you get another rejection and maybe it’s even a form letter and they spelled your name wrong, too?

How do you handle jealousy and envy?

First some definitions. Envy is the desire for something that someone else has. Jealousy is the feeling that someone has something that you feel belongs to you. And both are evil emotions which will hurt you.

This is all something Clea Simon and I have been talking about this week, and I think it’s important to realize that jealousy and envy are natural emotions, but that they have to do with your views on scarcity. Are you jealous because you think your friend got something so there isn’t enough to go around? Or are you envious because you think it means your friend is talented and the only thing you should be writing is “Vegetable salad” on a menu pad at Arby’s? Both of these scenarios have solutions. Scarcity is a myth—there is plenty for everyone, and worrying about your own talent is insecurity and you can easily shut it up by just writing some more.

A writer friend and I used to routinely deal with our throbs of jealousy when someone got something we wanted by instantly congratulating the person and writing a lovely note to them. Karma, we figured, might protect us, and in fact, writing those notes did diffuse our heart-wrenching yearning to “have what she’s (or he’s) having.” I’ve also been blessed with enough generous writing friends to know that their success often paves the way for opportunities for me (and vice versa). Of course you are going to feel the stings of jealousy, but when you begin to realize that we writers are all in the same boat, bobbing about at the mercy of publishers, editors, reviews an media, you begin to realize that the sharks bite at everyone one time or another, and that there really is room for all of us in the boat, which to my mind, is headed for Rome.

Case in point, my friend MJ Rose just got a rave Editor's Pick review of her book The Memorist in People. I was so excited, I screamed. I know how much this means to her-and I also know how much she deserves it (the book is that good.) All I want to do is share in her joy.

Thanks, Caroline. And YAY MJ!

Saturday, November 1, 2008