Monday, May 22, 2017

"Some of my favorite things..."

"World Enough weaves together some of my favorite things: A good mystery, a flawed heroine regaining her mojo, and rock 'n' roll. Specifically, World Enougj is set in the Boston rock scene and alternative press scene in the mid-80's. Having been there, I can say that Clea Simon has done a beautiful job of evoking this time and place before Boston underwent a tech-fuelled makeover and when the Rat was the gloriously grubby place to be. Simon gracefully handles the transitions from past to present, as her heroine Tara Winton, a bored PR associate, tries to recapture the idealism and sense of community she knew back in her youth as a rock critic and club regular. Her obsession with the mysterious death of a musician from the old scene sends her down a rabbit hole where she finds that her memories of that time dont hold up to the reality her investigation uncovers.

Many fiction writers have tried and failed to credibly capture the rock and roll life on the page. Clea Simon, a former music reviewer herself, gets it exactly right."

Are you a Goodreads author? If so, you can read this review for yourself here. Another reason to join: WE ARE GOING TO BE DOING A GIVEAWAY SOON! Details to come!

Friday, May 19, 2017

A feel-good #FelineFriday story

Yay, Ringer! And thank you, Chloe! Click on the link for the feel-good #FelineFriday story about a cat who was trapped under the ruins of his family's house for two months – and the dog who found him. And, yes, the vet predicts a full recovery. Click here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Great story and eerily authentic..."

So says Tanya Donelly (of Throwing Muses/the Breeders/Belly fame) about my upcoming Boston rock noir, "World Enough." She should know – as a founding member of Throwing Muses, she was certainly around during the '80s club heyday that I've set the book in. Around ... but not necessarily in it. I remember the first time I heard the Muses. It was a weeknight at the Rat. A cassette tape of their songs had already started circulating, but nobody in Boston had heard them yet. The tape featured guitar noise and screamed vocals. On stage, they were dissonant and strange – not like most of the garage rock or punk bands playing then. A couple of people left, but two musicians I deeply respect (Johnny Angel, then of the Blackjacks, and Rich Gilbert, then of the Zulus, I think) were really listening. We came away impressed, but it took a while for the band to find its audience, as I recall. Now, of course, they're considered groundbreaking. Those first songs from that cassette, though, they are still some of my favorites... Thanks, Tanya!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Fate and the Pulpwood Queens

I'm a music fan. Huge one. Used to write about it (a time of my life that forms the basis for my upcoming mystery World Enough). And one of my favorites is Lucinda Williams. I was listening to her a lot over the last few weeks, in anticipation of her show at Berklee Performance Center (amazing, she played for two hours...). And having just been to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, I found myself singing along with "Lake Charles," about a mystery man who wants to return to the Louisiana city – but who is really from over the border in Nagocdoches, Texas. And in the midst of my singing and anticipation, I got a dream invitation. I have been invited to participate in the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend next January - a wild blast of a book party that friends had told me about but that I'd never been to. And guess what? It's in Nagodoches!

Coincidence, or fate? Who cares, let's just sing along! (And maybe I'll see you in Texas?)


"He had a reason to get back to Lake Charles
He used to talk about it
He'd just go on and on
He always said Louisiana
Was where he felt at home
He was born in Nacogdoches
That's in East Texas
Not far from the border ...."

- Lucinda Williams, "Lake Charles"

Friday, May 12, 2017

But do cats love #FelineFriday?

This just in! Researchers at Oregon State University have proven that cats love people – many of them more than they love food, toys, or catnip! Well, we knew that, right? (I find it telling that this report was actually released while I was away on vacation - now I know what Musetta was trying to tell me as she mewed and rubbed against me on my return.) Read the full report here.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Revising

It's happened again, that thing where I wake up with a good idea for my work-in-progress. I rush to write it down, or to record it on my phone. And now I'm sitting down to weave it into this manuscript, which I hope will become the third Blackie & Care mystery.

So that's all good, right? Well, yes, except that I thought I had a finished manuscript. All the clues were laid, the action was written out, and I was even pretty happy with how I tied it all together. (If I re-read the climax and realize I'm holding my breath, I figure that's pretty good!) I'm supposed to be in the revising stage now. And this isn't even the first revision. I read the entire manuscript through last month, before taking a week of vacation. Now I'm reading it through on paper, supposedly just for things like awkward sentences or updated bits that somehow didn't make it in. I'm not supposed to be plotting at this point. But... writing is messy, I've found. And rewriting is an essential part of it. And so I'm working on this new twist, seeing if I can indeed fit it into the manuscript. And then, I guess, I'll be reading it through, one more time, before sending it in!

What is the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend?

And why will I be flying off to Nacogdoches, Texas, in January? This Writer's Digest article explains more about the world's LARGEST book club – and the annual party that I am so looking forward to being part of! When else will I get to wear my cowboy boots AND a tiara?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Texas and tiaras!

WOOT! It's official! I'll be at the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in January! I have wanted to attend this wild and crazy book-club-cum-crazy-wild-party since I first heard about it (probably from the super-talented New York Times-bestselling author Caroline Leavitt, who has attended). Basically, it's a weekend-long fiesta of books, barbecue, and feather boas. And I'm only a small fry compared to some of the authors attending - this year, Randi Susan Myers, MJ Rose, and Alice Hoffman are topping the bill. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Check it out - and consider signing up. I expect it to be a blast!

And I think this means that I get to add this to my page for "World Enough," too:

Monday, May 8, 2017

"A most unusual team..."

"A most unusual detection team..." begins this review of As Dark As My Fur in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The piece goes on to praise the book's "combination of hard-boiled crime novel, feline fiction, corruption and even a touch of the supernatural." Why, thank you!

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Daze of Futures Passed...."

“Music-scene insider Clea Simon’s WORLD ENOUGH shows how the daze of futures passed on the Boston rock underground reaches into the present to stir up darkness. Makes me want to get out my old Aught Nines vinyl.” –Milo Miles of NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” Thank you!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy Bookstore Day!

It's Independent Bookstore Day today!

Why? To quote the website: Independent bookstores are not just stores, they’re community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers. They are entire universes of ideas that contain the possibility of real serendipity. They are lively performance spaces and quiet places where aimless perusal is a day well spent.

In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.

How can you participate? Why visiting your favorite indie bookstore, of course! And if you can't, consider ordering from one. Signed copies of my books are available at Porter Square Books and Harvard Bookstore. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Diversity makes us stronger!

We all know that a full spectrum of characters, people, and places are what bring our favorite books to life. Now the wonderful organization Sisters in Crime, of which I'm a proud member, is offering the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color Award, a grant of $1,500 to help mystery writers of color get their start. Although unpublished writers are preferred – we want to give a newcomer a leg up! – one work of short or academic work will not disqualify applicants. Are you a writer of color dreaming of finally getting the mystery written? Do you know of someone who could use a financial boost? Read about the grant here and help spread the word.

Who was Eleanor Taylor Bland? Read more here:

Eleanor Taylor Bland was a pioneer in crime fiction. In 1992 the first in a series of crime fiction novels that feature Marti MacAlister, an African American female police detective who works and resides in a Midwestern American town that closely resembles Bland’s own adopted home town, Waukegan, Illinois, was published. Bland also published several works of short crime fiction and edited a collection titled Shades of Black: Crime and Mystery Stories by African-American Authors (2004). When she passed away in 2010, she was one of the most prolific African American authors in the genre. With Marti MacAlister, Bland created an enduring and much beloved heroine who went against the grain of perpetuated stereotypes related to African American women in much of U.S. popular culture.... (continued here).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

You missed it?

Not to worry! Bookstores like Porter Square Books (pictured) have visiting authors sign stock. Drop by, call, or order online to get a signed copy (the bookstore web page tells you how!).

Monday, April 24, 2017

"I was enthralled..."

"This is completely different from anything I have read before," writes this book blogger about my As Dark As My Fur. "I was held enthralled from the beginning..." How nice! Read more here.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A working #FelineFriday

Musetta is quite a stern taskmistress - and as I'm revising what I hope will become the third Blackie & Care mystery,she's keeping a close watch on me. What am I doing? Well, I'm giving the first draft a read-through for plot first - making sure that people only find things out in a somewhat logical order and that key clues are more or less discovered when they should be. This are very rough fixes. After this, I need to read it through to see how it READS. You know, the writing part! Oh, and I'm giving treats, of course. Lots of treats!

Happy #FelineFriday!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"The innocence and wonder of those times..."

I gave an advance copy of World Enough to once and future Boston rocker Rick Paige​ (now the proprietor of the funky fun Atomic Dimestore​ in Hyannis) and he sent me the following message, which he gave me permission to share. Particularly because he is not a mystery fan, his response was extremely gratifying.

His response in full (unedited): "It was really engaging, I had a hard time putting it down. I buzz-sawed right thru it. There was one part that I really liked, when she's walking home from the club, and you write (paraphrasing), "Maybe this is what we love, the night", that scene just captured the innocence and wonder of those times with a little bittersweetness.

I'm not a huge fan of the mystery genre, so I'd hesitate to say I LOVED it, since it was, after all, a mystery. But I liked it a lot."

You can pre-order your copy of World Enough now by clicking here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Come get Cozy with us!

Celebrate Patriot's Day at Porter Square Books with a bunch of cozy authors. We'll be reading, chatting, answering questions, and giving away prizes – tonight at 7 p.m.!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday

Not all cat books are cozies, and not all cozies have cats – but I can promise you both on Monday at Cozy at the Cafe @PorterSqBooks https://goo.gl/ixrIZK
Monday, 7 p.m. Happy #FELINEFRIDAY!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

So honored!

Guess what arrived in the mail? Yes, my Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers Association, an international professional group dedicated to – yes – writing about cats! Both nonfiction and fiction writers are welcome, but of course this is for my 2016 mystery, The Ninth Life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cats on the web!

Where do you go for your cat information? One of my favorite stops during the day – for useful tips or simply a fun break – is Ingrid King's The Conscious Cat, which features everything from in-depth, insightful book reviews (thank you again, Ingrid!) to stories about a wedding with rescue kittens (the bride and groom are both vets and wanted to promote cat rescue, of course!). Ingrid also gets serious, with real-life product ratings of toys and cat care products, vet and behaviorist interviews, and much much more. Check out The Conscious Cat today. By the way, Ingrid's house panther is a Tortie - and she's the author of several great cat books, including Tortitude.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Happy National Pet Day

Yes, it is National Pet Day! Time to spread the message to spay or neuter your pet - and that when it's time for a new pet, adopt, don't shop. Now bow down and pay homage to your animal overlord (or, in this case, lady).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Black Cats Tell All

We all know #BlackCatsAreBeautiful, right? Well Layla Morgan Wilde, one of my colleagues in the Cat Writers Association, has launched Black Cats Tell All, a site dedicated to black cats. The site is going to have multiple black cat products and already has a beautiful Black Cat calendar for sale. Her site is a New York-based 501 (c)3 non profit initiative and all proceeds go to raise awareness and adoption rates for black cats. Check it out!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Page proofs

Do you write on the weekend? Well, no, I usually try to take the weekend off. This weekend, that means reading through page proofs. Because nothing says excitement like reading your own work for the umpteenth time and knowing that THIS IS YOUR ABSOLUTE LAST CHANCE TO CHANGE ANYTHING. Sigh.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday - and a celebration!

Happy #FelineFriday! I'm beyond thrilled to announce that my "The Ninth Life," the first Blackie and Care "chat noir" mystery, has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by the Cat Writers Association. The CWA is a professional organization of journalists, authors, and bloggers who focus on cat science and behavior, and, yes, feline fiction. Each year, the CWA hosts a communications contest in which entries from around the world (yes, we are international) are judged by other professional members. Entries that receive a combined score of 90 or above (out of 100) receive Certificates of Excellence. Plus, Certificate of Excellence honorees are automatically up for a Muse Medallion. (I've already won a few!) Those will be announced on May 19. I'd love for you to wish me luck, but in truth, I'm already thrilled to be a winner. Thank you, CWA!

Can you hear me purring?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New England Mobile Book Fair update

According to the Boston Globe, people care – and are reaching out. Stories here and, even better, here tell of towns wooing the independent bookstore. As Boston Globe reporter Mark Shanahan writes, "The story of the New England Mobile Book Fair may have a happy ending after all.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The cardinal

Some poems write themselves.

The Cardinal

We were walking, talking about the dead
and their partners, who remain.
A grim subject for the bright spring day.
The flash of red offered relief,
and I welcomed the diversion. Watched it
darting toward the road and back.
Oh, look, I said. A cardinal.
We noticed, then, together, that it flew – or tried to
– toward the carcass of another,
hit by the heavy traffic and now still.
And so we waited, wincing at each passing car.
Until you could make your move,
picking up the sad remains to place them on the curb,
where I stood silent, my heart caught up,
by such respect for love.


- Clea Simon

Monday, April 3, 2017

"Inspired..."

"Simon is extremely cat-savvy to pull off this unconventional narration with such accuracy and feeling," says Mollie Hunt, of Crazy Cat Lady Mysteries of my brand new As Dark As My Fur. " I appreciate the opportunity to get to know Blackie and Care in this inspired sequel to 'The Ninth Life.'" You can read the full review here.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Happy launch day to "As Dark As My Fur"!

Today's the day - no fooling! The second Blackie and Care cat noir mystery, "As Dark As My Fur" is officially launched! It is out now in hardcover and e-book versions, and you can read a sample, reviews, and more here at CleaSimon.com. While you're on my site, consider signing up for my newsletter (you can also do that here). Then you'll be up on all the latest – and be registered for prizes, too, like the $20 Amazon gift certificate I'm giving away to celebrate!

"perilously walks the line..."

AS DARK AS MY FUR "perilously walks the line between dream and nightmare," says Publishers Weekly, which also calls my dark new cat mystery "hypnotic." And it is OUT TODAY!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Black Cats Are Beautiful

Black cats are beautiful, but they get so little love. Black cats are harder to place in permanent homes, and they are more likely to be the victims of cruelty. Considering what gorgeous, intelligent, and sensitive animals they are, this is particularly harsh – and so I want to counter that hate by showing black cats some love! To celebrate "As Dark As My Fur," I'm inviting everyone who knows and loves a black cat to post photos, stories, tidbits, or links over at my author Facebook page. Let's show some black cat love! (This is Nuit, who lives with the librarian Jeanne who blogs at the Book Blog of the Bristol Library). And happy #FelineFriday!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Childhood inspiration...

What childhood favorite has snuck its way into my new Blackie and Care series? In the countdown to As Dark As My Fur, I blog about this over at Lesa's Book Blog.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Cat of a Different Color

Today, on Ingrid King's Conscious Cat blog, I talk about my Blackie and Care series and specifically why, after writing cozies for years, I've started writing a scarier kind of book.

"Sometimes a writer needs to go dark. Not as in silent, but as in dangerous. After close to 20 cozies, I realized that’s what I had to do. The cover of my new mystery, As Dark As My Fur, says it all: a black cat stares out, his green-eyed gaze intense. In the background, a tunnel seems to lead the way underground, further from the light. Indeed, this book – the second Blackie and Care mystery – follows a path laid out in the first of this series, The Ninth Life. And while I understand that not all of my readers will want to follow me here, I do hope you’ll listen as I explain why I’m taking it now, in this series...." Read more here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sign up for prizes!

YES WE ARE DOING A GIVEAWAY! What? You may ask? Sign up for my newsletter and enter to win a $20 Amazon gift certificate here.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday

Fans of my Dulcie Schwartz mysteries (like the new "Into the Grey") know that the Harvard Libraries are full of wonders (and some mysteries). I'm sure she would approve of this #FelineFriday share from the Widener Library blog featuring some whimsical cat-bird cooperation from a Polish children's book.

Countdown to "As Dark As My Fur"

To celebrate #FelineFriday and as the countdown to the official pub. date of "As Dark As My Fur" begins, I'm thrilled to post advance reviews. Here's one from a bookseller's blog: "It's very good read and I really enjoyed watching the young girl upset the plans the bad man had in mind. She's just starting out, so I look forward to reading more about her and Blackie. They make a mean team..."

What more can one ask for in a review? Read the full review here: Journey of a Bookseller.

Oh yeah, As Dark As My Fur officially launches on April 1. No fooling!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

RIP Colin Dexter

The creator of the beloved "Inspector Morse" series was, by all accounts, also a kind and generous man. This appreciation by fellow crime writers in the Guardian says it all, but in addition to this lovely tribute, I have been seeing dozens of remembrances of this eminence grisé, who died at his home in Oxford earlier this week at the age of 86. I am sorry I never got to meet him, but it confirms my suspicion that crime writers are the nicest people. Maybe it's because we get our aggressions out in print. Maybe because we have made ourselves face the evil people can do. All I can tell you is the generosity in this community has amazed me. I hope to emulate Mr. Dexter, at least in this respect. Rest in peace, sir.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Speaking out for the NEA and NEH

Yup, I'm one of them - a writer who wrote a postcard voicing support for continued NEA and NEH funding as part of this LitHub campaign. After all, this funding amounts to less than 1% of the federal budget, but it pays for programs that bring the arts and humanities – history, literature, poetry, painting... – to ALL Americans. As I wrote on my card (can you read the scrawl?), "Arts are not just for the wealthy!" Share if you agree, or write your own card! #NEApostcards

End game ... with ships

I'm not a plotter. Far from it – instead, I am very much a "pantser," writing by the seat of my pants, so to speak. But as I explained a week or so ago, at some point, I do have to sit down and figure things out. Sometimes, the endings of my books make themselves obvious to me (of COURSE her best friend is implicated in the murder!). At other times, I realize I've made complications for myself - side stories that have taken on a life of their own and that need their own resolutions.

In my latest WIP (the third Blackie and Care, tentatively titled "Cross My Path," the follow up to "As Dark As My Fur"), I found myself researching the infamous Triangle Trade that enabled slavery in the New World – but enriched the Old World. I first learned about from the musical "1776," in the song "Molasses to Rum to Slaves." But I found myself learning a lot more as I read. And even though the Blackie and Care books take place in a fictional world – a strange dystopian city where everything has broken down – what I've learned has become part of a side story, one that must be properly resolved. How will I do it, dear reader? That is the mystery I am working to solve now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

New England Mobile Book Fair needs your help!

New England Mobile Book Fair needs your help!

Hey, local authors and readers! You know how NEMBF has always been there – a big, sprawling treasure trove of a bookstore? Well, now it – and owner Tom Lyons – needs your help.

The store is looking for a new home – ideally 3,000–4,000 SF of sales space at no more than $7,000/month triple net. Lyons is looking at Natick, Canton, Waltham, West Roxbury, and Needham, but is open to other possibilities. He is also seeking an investor/partner, if you or anyone you know has always wanted to get involved with a bookstore.

Bottom line: the current store is huge (over 16,000 SF) and the bulk of that space is for bargain books, which are just not paying their way. The new store would likely be tighter and more focused (no more religion or university press books, probably). But the big-selling genres – MYSTERY! other fiction, and children's books – will remain. This move has to happen, says Lyons, because costs are now so high, he is having trouble buying inventory. No books = no bookstore.

Tom will also be looking for help. Right now, he’s boxing up the first edition, signed mysteries. Want to help? Know of a good, safe storage space? Further down the line, he'll also be asking for more help packing – and there are also going to be those lovely wooden bookshelves for sale.

Can you help? Contact Tom Lyons at tom.nembf AT gmail.com (you know how to put that together, just trying to foil the bots) or by phone at 617-964-7440 (have him paged).

PS - This all means that bargain books over $5 are now 50% off!! What a deal!

"A very good read..."

Why, thank you, Journey of a Bookseller weighs in on AS DARK AS MY FUR, concluding, "I look forward to reading more about her and Blackie. They make a mean team." Read more here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

A librarian's cats celebrate #FelineFriday

Jeanne Powers, who blogs for the Bristol (VA) Public Library, always has the best photos to accompany her book reviews. Of course, some of the outtakes are the best... I like this one!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The "Aha" Moment

I'm what is known as a "pantser," rather than a "plotter." Rather than figure out all the twists and turns of a book before I begin to write it, I start with an idea – a problem or a question – and then start writing. This can be difficult. I end up writing some dead ends that I have to scrap, and I must revise really carefully to make sure everything makes sense. On the plus side, this allows me to surprise myself, when characters or scenes suggest innovations that I never would have thought of if I had tried to bang out the entire story before I started writing.

I'm currently working on the third Blackie and Care (the followup to "As Dark As My Fur"), and I thought I had hit a major block. I was just about to take a break, to start re-reading the manuscript desperate to find some new thread to follow, when the magic happened. I bashed out a scene, and then went for a workout. I wasn't consciously thinking about my book problems as I ran, but something clicked. As I hit the 20-minute mark, I had one of those "aha" moments. The scene I had just written reached the wrong conclusion – but once I rewrote it, I saw what would happen next, and, in fact, how the rest of the book, using all the odd bits I'd written over the previous weeks, could come together into an exciting (I hope) conclusion.

Now the only problem will be reading my own sloppier-than-usual post-workout scrawl!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

"Simon does a masterful job..."

Wow, just wow, this review from the Bookblog of the Bristol Public Library: "Simon does a masterful job of creating atmosphere, using Blackie’s narration to go beyond mere visual description to evoke the dark, cold feel of the city with the smell of refuse, the biting wind, and the hungers of all types that eat at the inhabitants....
Yet there is a hope in the bleakness. Care is a brave, compassionate girl willing to take on thugs or even the system itself in order to right wrongs."

There's more, if you want to read it here. And, of course, there's a great illustration. Here's Nuit, with As Dark As My Fur.

Monday, March 13, 2017

When your witness is a robot....

One of the hot topics among mystery writers is how to deal with current technology. After all, if our heroine is threatened these days, all she has to do is whip out her smart phone, call for help, and maybe film whoever is threatening her. She can even do a search for incriminating evidence or film suspicious activity.

That can make creating a mystery challenging. There are only so many times you can reasonably have your protagonist lose her cell – or have the battery run down, right? Well, the situation just got more interesting. Investigators in an Arkansas murder investigation want to access material from an Amazon Echo (aka, "Alexa"). This technology is always on and waiting for a voice prompt, so it may have heard something that could shed light on what happened that night, when a couple of buddies crashed after a night of beers and talk and one ended up floating in the hot tub... dead. Read more here.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A girl stands up to Wall Street

A reminder that we must stand up to power even when it's not International Women's Day. Be brave! Stand up! A girl stands up to Wall Street.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A day for heroines

Today is International Women's Day, celebrating the strength and diversity of women around the world as we struggle for equality. Here, in the U.S., some of us are honoring this day as a Day Without Women, in which we avoid working (if we can) or shopping (except in women and/or minority-owned businesses). As an independent contractor, I can't avoid working today – but I am not shopping today. I am also joining thousands of others in wearing red today. Won't you join us?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017



Tonight I'll be joining Sisters in Crime Julie Hennrikus and Frances McNamara to talk about mysteries, writing, and "The Modern Heroine." Come join us at 7 p.m., at Memorial Hall Library, Andover, MA. Free, of course!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy World Book Day!

Read a book! Give a book to a friend! Take a book out of the library! Let's celebrate World Book Day!

Four stars for "As Dark As My Fur"

"I read a lot of books per year," writes reviewer Kath on Goodreads. "Every so often I crave something different. For me, this was that book." She is writing, of course, about my As Dark As My Fur, a mystery she says, that "can be read on different levels." She then goes on to talk about the characterization and the "cat bits," which she loves. She concludes: "All in all, an interesting, different but satisfying read." What a thoughtful review! I'm so grateful! Want to read the full review? Click here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Happy Mardi Gras!

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone! But, please, take care of yourself (and your friends). Don't be this kitty:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

SWAT Cat gets a condo - Happy #FelineFriday!

Do you know about SWAT cat? This stray calico adopted - and was adopted by – the Boston Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactical (SWAT) unit. She's had some adventures – including a worrisome period in December 2015 when she went missing. But now she's back and has a new home, a lovely kitty condo, courtesy of the BPD. Full story here.

photo courtesy of the Boston Police Dept.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Blackie comes to the U.S.!

Official U.S. pub date isn't until April 1 (no fooling!), but Amazon now has "As Dark As My Fur" available in hardcover with FREE SHIPPING! (Click here to be connected.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Cat love for Valentine's Day!

"Got a bunch of cat love, no stopping that! Hand's up, let's adopt a cat!" Rapper Moshow shows his feline feelings in this video. And while he's honoring his local Portland, OR, shelter, you know there's a shelter near you with kitties willing and able to love you!

What is love?

Sometimes, it's roses, sure (thank you, sweetie!). But sometimes it's taking the time to look over a friend's essay or job application. To shovel your neighbor's sidewalk, cause you're out there already and he's warm and dry. Sometimes, it's that call or email that comes "for no reason." Or when your kitty brings you her favorite orange mouse? Yeah, I think that's it. Connection – that's what love is.
Thanks, all of you, for reading. For being my Valentine. Happy day, all!

Monday, February 13, 2017

May I be your Valentine?


Tomorrow is Valentine's Day (a silly holiday but one I personally like, in small doses). If you're so inclined, take five minutes out of your day to send a valentine to a writer you like, in the form of an online review (Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc - wherever you frequent).

Hell, send two, or three, or a dozen. Writers are happy to share the love. And trust me, they WILL feel the love.

(naturally I'd be thrilled if you did this for one of my titles, but embrace it as you will...) I'm going to do this. Won't you? Happy Valentine's Day!

(Borrowed from Laura Anne Gilman, a lovely writer)

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Caturday

Because it is the weekend, and because we could all use a little good news - here's a clip from a new documentary called "Kedi," about the street cats of Istanbul:



The New York Times gives it "four paws up."

Friday, February 10, 2017

A very February #FelineFriday

No, "cat curling" isn't a real sport – and this isn't even an Olympic year. But still... Happy "#FelineFriday!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

I do love oysters... (books in series orders)

Funny what you find when you're playing around the Internet. When I saw a site advertising "Books in Series Order," I immediately clicked through. Sure enough, this site has an accurate listing of all my books to date. But what really intrigued me was that it had a little bio of me, apparently drawn from interviews I've given.

In part, it reads:
Most of her books feature punny titles and plenty of cats, but there is also more than meets the eye when looking at her books. The heroines that the books feature are often modeled after herself, in that each of her characters is a part of herself. There is a darkness that lines the stories that she tells through her novels, which points back to the noir connections in her writing. Her books often use murder, mystery, and music to drive her stories, all while staying true to a core of animal rights. All of this being done without ever becoming preachy or self-righteous. Those already familiar with animal rights issues will surely agree with the message that Simon is putting across with her novels, while those who are unfamiliar will find new information presented in engaging and new ways.

For the full writeup (including the series list), click here.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Morality... this book is about morality"

"Morality. This novel, narrated by ... a cat named Blackie, is about morality." Wow, how much do I love this review of As Dark As My Fur? Sometimes, when you read a review, you learn things about your own work. Thank you, Jeannie Rigod.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Cats at Westminster? #FelineFriday

Now here's the oddest cat story of the week: This year, the Westminster Dog Show will feature ... a cat! Read about Jungletrax (that's her name) here.

AP Photo

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

"Do one thing every day that scares you."

"Do one thing every day that scares you." That quote, often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, may not have been voiced by the great First Lady, but it is still excellent advice for expanding your horizons. It's true in writing, too. Afraid of a conflict? Go there. Not sure you can resolve a plot point? Try. Secretly fear you can't write that novel? You'll never know unless you start it, will you? Be brave, today! Seize life and make it your own.

Monday, January 30, 2017


"We are in love with this series by one of our favorite writers," begins this AWESOME review of "As Dark As My Fur"! She then goes on to use phrases like "absolutely mesmerizing" that have me positively purring. Thank you, Miss Cuddlywumps!

Pssst: You can get it NOW here (at a discount too)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thursday, January 26, 2017

As Dark As My Fur

A black cat, a lone girl, and a city full of trouble... Did you know you can pre-order AS DARK AS MY FUR on Amazon? Yup! Here https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Fur-Blackie-Care-Mystery/dp/0727886827/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484851421&sr=8-1&keywords=As+Dark+As+My+Fur

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Going dark

Readers may have noticed a trend in my writing - I've been going darker. From the gentle cozies of Theda Krakow ("Mew is for Murder") and Dulcie Schwartz ("Into the Grey"), I went to the sardonic sass of Pru Marlowe ("When Bunnies Go Bad") and then the black cat-noir chat of "The Ninth Life." The sequel to "The Ninth Life," called "As Dark As My Fur," will be out soon (it's available from the UK here!). But next up is a book so dark it doesn't even have cats in it! To be called "World Enough," it's my rock and roll mystery, set in the underground music scene of Boston in the 1980s, and Severn House will publish it in October. I'm working on a soundtrack, and I'll have photos of the real thing to post as publication gets closer. But don't worry, cat cozy fans! I've now gone dark enough that I've realized I want to balance things out. I've got a new kitty cozy in the works, too. Light and dark together – that's what makes a writer happy. This one, anyway!

Monday, January 23, 2017

PW says "Hypnotic!"

As Dark As My Fur is "hypnotic," according to Publishers Weekly! Wow, what a welcome home! Here's the entire review (to run in the Jan. 23 Publishers Weekly):

As Dark as My Fur: A Blackie and Care Mystery, Clea Simon. Severn, $28.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8682-8

Readers who enjoy the prickly pleasure of stepping into a strange alternate universe will welcome Simon’s hypnotic second Blackie and Care mystery (after 2015’s The Ninth Life), set in a blighted unnamed city. Bands of gangsters control the various neighborhoods, bartering is more common than the use of money, and the mostly illiterate masses have to scavenge to eke out a living. Pink-haired teen Carrie “Care” Wright, an apprentice private detective, navigates this treacherous world aided by Blackie, a cat she rescued from drowning. Blackie, the narrator, is no ordinary cat. His consciousness contains not only his feline instincts but also flashes of memories from his past life as a human. When a factory owner hires Care, who has been in charge of the detective agency since her mentor’s murder, to shadow one of his workers, Blackie fears something isn’t quite right. Since he can’t talk, he can do little to warn Care of his misgivings. The novel perilously walks the line between dream and nightmare.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"That means the President doesn't like you, Mommy."

I want to get this down while I still remember it: At dinner in Baltimore on Friday night, we realized the table next to ours was also filled with marchers (the "Love Trumps Hate" buttons were the giveaway). They were family (adult sisters) and friends from Texas – Austin and San Antonio – who had flown in for the march. One woman said her young son had come from school saying "President Trump doesn't like Mexicans." She told him, "I'm Mexican," and he said, "That means the president doesn't like you," and started to cry. This is not acceptable, people. Just not. DJT has not made much policy yet, but he ran – and won – on a platform that encourages people to say things like this to young children. And that, right there, is enough. And then they shared photos of their daughters, who had made signs for the Austin/San Antonio marches! One protest, no matter how big, will not change things. But there are millions of us. Millions. If we can keep the pressure up, we will scare some legislators into doing the right thing. We will support the ones who are with us. And by god in two years and in four years and in all the little, local elections between, we will make our voices heard. I fear we were complacent this time. Never again.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Why We March

We don't have to be negative. We don't have to be "against" anyone or "for" anyone. We can simply say WE ARE HERE! And so I am marching today to let everyone know that I have a voice – and that girls and women can be the heroines of their own stories! #WhyIMarch

Friday, January 20, 2017

#FelineFriday anyone?

There's so much else going on, let's all tune into our cats for a little peace of mind, shall we? I'm declaring this #FelineFriday and asking you to share your kitty photos here and on other social media.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Congrats to the nominees!

Do you know about the Edgars? You should! It's one of the most prestigious awards presented in the mystery/crime fiction community BY the mystery/crime fiction community. No, I'm not among them (this year), but I want to send a BIG shout-out to this year's nominees! Check these authors out!

Best novel: The Ex by Alafair Burke (HarperCollins Publishers – Harper)
Where It Hurts by Reed Farrel Coleman (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam's Sons)
What Remains of Me by Alison Gaylin (HarperCollins Publishers – William Morrow)
Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)

More here...

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy new BOOK!

Happy new year, all! And happy news for me - my first "edgy urban noir" (my editor's words) has been accepted. Look for WORLD ENOUGH to be published by Severn House on June 30 (UK)/Oct. 1 (US). It's very different from my previous mysteries (my husband calls it my first "R-rated novel"), with a much harder edge. I call it my rock-world mystery, as it jumps back and forth between the Boston club scene of the '80s and more recent times, and there isn't a cat in sight. Cozy lovers, please don't worry - I love cat cozies and always hope to write them as well, but this was a book that needed to come out. And now I know it will! More info as I have it, but what a way to start the new year!

Hope yours is healthy, happy, and fulfilling!