Friday, October 20, 2017

How reliable is your memory?

How reliable is memory?

According to neuroscientists, not very. While we may view any particular memory as a continuous film of a past scene, those who study how the brain processes describe it as something more like a collage. As a 2012 Psychology Today article summarized, every time we conjure a memory, we are not so much reviewing a complete set of stored data as re-configuring a complex scene from disparate parts. In other words, every memory is newly re-assembled, and even if the pieces are accurate they may be prone to reinterpretation...

(To read more, please jump over to Crimespree,the wonderful crime fiction/mystery blog that is hosting me today: here!)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Boucheron in pictures

What happens when something like 1,700 crime fiction fans (authors, publishers, librarians, and fans - all of us readers) gather in one place? Craziness – and a lot of love. I'm now catching up after spending Thursday through Sunday at that party, also known as Bouchercon, an annual celebration that, this year, was held in Toronto. (That's where the auction in my last post took place.) Of course, I have the "con cold" now (it was worth it), so I'm not going to go on at length. But here are just some of the pix ... see if you can name the authors. Hope to see you all at the next Bouchercon, next September in Saint Petersburg, FL! (OH YEAH, what's up with those Aught Nine t-shirts? Email if you want to know more .. or if you want your own [while I still have some]).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Going once, going twice ...

So one of the great things about Bouchercon is that it pairs with a charity, usually literacy related, to support reading (of course). But this being Bouchercon, it's done in a fun way. This year's beneficiary was Frontier College, is a longstanding cross-Canada literacy organization supporting people across Canada as they work to increase their literacy skills.

How do we raise money? Well, by auctioning off things like the right to name a pet in an upcoming pet noir, of course!


Donna Andrews and Chris Grabenstein served as our auctioneers:

And these are the wonderful winners, Sarah Byrne and Peter McDonald, whose kitty Bunbury Bandersnatch will have a cameo in "Fear on Four Paws."

and here's the newly minted star himself.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Indie bookstores rule...

When the Moon travel guides asked me to blog about my local independent bookstores, I jumped at the chance. New England has such a rich literary history, it makes sense that we have a rich bookstore history too – and this piece has links to great stores, reading series, and more!

"What do Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Parker have in common? They both lived and worked in New England, and whether they sought the serenity of Walden Pond or roamed the tough streets of Boston, this region informs their work. Add in greats such as Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sylvia Plath, and Atul Gawande, and you’ll get a glimpse of the range of authors who call this area home... to read more, click here.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Life lessons from a kitty

For this #FelineFriday, I look back on what Musetta (and Cyrus before her) have taught me. Here – and on the Pulpwood Queens' Beauty & the Book Blog – I share that wisdom with you!

There is no longer a Musetta here at Chez Musetta. The round tuxedo longhair who used to supervise my daily writing is gone But even though my beloved pet left us two weeks ago – after a long life and a blessedly brief illness at the age of 16 ½ – the lessons she taught me about how to live my own best life remain. In her memory – and in anticipation of the next feline who will come to share our home – I share these feline secrets with you.

Find the sunny spot: Cats are masters at finding the sunny spot on the rug, to the point where we called Musetta our solar-powered kitty. Now, maybe we can’t all lie around, warming our fur, as the morning turns to lazy afternoon, but the message is the same: Find the warmth and the light in your life – in the people around you, in your work, in your home – and take it all in. You’ll find you too are recharged, and then you can share that warmth with others.

Share the purr: Once you have found your sun, share that light with others. What is cheerier than a purring cat? When you have a vibrating kitty beside you on the sofa or on your lap, you can’t help but be cheered. So when you feel good – about anything – don’t hold back. Express yourself. Purr – and spread the joy.


Set your boundaries: On the other hand, don’t fake it when you don’t feel it. Too often we women, in particular, bend ourselves into all kinds of shapes trying to please others or squirming to fit ourselves into roles that simply aren’t us. That’s something cats never do. They are who they are, and they aren’t afraid to show it. Kitty doesn’t want to be pet? She walks away. Pull her tail? She hisses. Some people put cats down for this, saying they should be more dog-like and obedient. But the real message here is that we should all be more like that kitty. She demands respect, and as a result, she gets it.

You are beautiful, just as you are: Sure, we may make fun of fats cats, but they don’t care. A plump puss is a lovely puss, and those of us who really love cats know that it’s fine to have more of that feline to snuggle. And cats don’t fuss about their weight either – do you ever see a feline trying to fit into a too-tight fur? No! So whether you’re fluffy or svelte, take a cue from your cat and understand that you are perfect.

Take the time for self-care: Cats can groom for hours, working from nose-tip to tail tip, with breaks to individually manicure each claw. They don’t worry about being late for a play date or missing dinner. They know self-care is vital for our inner well-being. We may not follow exactly their beauty regimen – I prefer a comb to using my tongue – but the basic rule remains the same. Give yourself the time you need. Take care of yourself. Then you can take care of – and take on – the world.

Stay wild: Not all cats are hunters, and that’s fine. My kitties have all been indoor-only cats, whose “prey” are toy mice (and the occasional confused moth). That’s safer for them, and the birds in my yard are grateful, too! But even the most pampered pussycat becomes a tiger when she plays. Just watch a kitten stalk and pounce, and you’ll have a window onto the rich interior life that keeps cats from getting bored with their lot. These games reveal the importance of imagination and instinct – and of the inspiration and creativity we can draw from the wild side of our nature.

Relax! Life goes on whether you’re at the window supervising the squirrels or napping on the couch. Take time out, when you need it, whether that means dozing or just spending some time staring at the sunbeams. You’ll be better for it.

Clea Simon is pleased as punch that her new rock ‘n’ roll noir World Enough is a Pulpwood Queens October alternate read. But before this new darker book, she wrote 22 cat mysteries – from Mew is for Murder to As Dark As My Fur – as well as the nonfiction The Feline Mystique: On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats. The winner of multiple Muse Medallions from the international Cat Writers Association for her writing about felines and about the human-animal bond, she will be bringing her best feline spirit to Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend Weekend in January.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Yes, more cat mysteries are in the works

Feline left out? Please don't let your fur get all ruffled. Although my upcoming World Enough (Severn House) is a rock 'n' roll noir, I've got several cat mysteries in the works, ranging from cozy to claws out.

First up, the feline sleuth Blackie will return in Cross My Path (Severn House). This third Blackie & Care adventure tackles the mystery of Blackie's past as the duo take on a murder and a missing person in their dark and dangerous city. (June 2018)

Then, bad girl Pru Marlowe and her wisecracking tabby Wallis return in Fear on Four Paws (Poisoned Pen Press). This seventh pet noir mystery revisits the Berkshires, where Frank the ferret has a secret... (tentatively August 2018)

On the horizon, I'm working on a new cozy series, the Witch Cats of Cambridge, which will debut with A Spell of Murder (Polis Books). This fun, light-hearted series will feature a young woman who desperately wants to be a witch, all the while unaware that it is her three cats who have the real power ... and who must use it to solve crime and keep their person out of trouble. (Tentatively January 2019)

Will there be more rock 'n' roll noir after that? I hope so! Stay tuned, dear readers. Purrs out!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Lisa Unger LOVES "World Enough"

"With a colorful cast of characters, a gift for detail, and intricate plotting, Simon takes her readers deep into the esoteric world of the Boston music scene ..." – Lisa Unger.


I am breathless. Thriller queen/bestselling author Lisa Unger said THIS today on the Poisoned Pen bookstore blog:


Ah, remember the eighties? The alternative music, the underground clubs? When it was cool to be an outsider and a misfit? Clea Simon certainly does and she captures it perfectly in this atmospheric, twisting, time machine of a mystery featuring former rock journalist, turned corporate cog, Tara Winton. My pal Erin Mitchell sent this one. And when Erin tells me I’m going to like something, I always do. With a colorful cast of characters, a gift for detail, and intricate plotting, Simon takes her readers deep into the esoteric world of the Boston music scene as Tara’s questions about the “accidental” death of an old friend, lead her on a dangerous, twisting path to the past.
(Really!! See it here.)

wow

Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy new year – and new books!

Wow, what a week.

A week ago today, Musetta was still with us. Still herself. But maybe something had already changed. I was sitting at my desk, writing, and she came over and reached up to me – grabbing onto my thigh with her claws and asking to be lifted onto my lap. She hadn't done that in a long while. I hadn't thought about it – or if I did, I attributed it to her arthritis (for which we gave her injections), which made jumping difficult – but I knew what she wanted. I lifted her up to my lap and, reaching over her to my keyboard, went back to work. She jumped down soon and went about her business, but that was okay. I was nearing the end of a manuscript and I had another pending. I had no time to waste.

That night, Jon and I opened a bottle of champagne. I'd had a good offer for a new project, and although the details were still being ironed out, we wanted to celebrate. For us, that meant bubbly with our Friday night Korean takeout and movies. We did wonder why Musetta didn't come downstairs, as usual, to join us and both went up to "her" room to check on her. She seemed fine – alert, and looking up at us in her "do you need me for something? I was napping" way. Still, I woke up around five the next morning and went upstairs to her room (OK, the guest room - but she'd claimed it as hers). She was still lying on the futon, where we'd seen her the evening before, which wasn't unusual, but still... I lay next to her for a while, and when Jon woke and came up to join us, she jumped down from the futon and looked down the stairs at him. Everything seemed normal, and we went back to our own bed, leaving her in her domain.

It was all downhill from there. And while we were so, so not ready, our darling kitty was. At 16 1/2, our little jellicle had lived her life to the fullest and (after vet visits, feedings of baby food and B vitamins, various not-too-invasive procedures, and Jon playing violin for her, a story for another time) on Wednesday, Sept. 20, we said goodbye to her.

Over Monday and Tuesday, my wonderful and caring agent had worked out the details with my new publisher, Jason Pinter of Polis Books. She was very respectful of my feelings, but I had emailed her, telling her that I could use the distraction. Somewhere in there, Jason wrote me a lovely welcome letter, and I gather I managed to send him the bio and photo he needed to make the announcement (I was certainly on autopilot). When he shared the Publishers Marketplace announcement with me yesterday, Thursday, I initially agreed to share it – then realized I couldn't. He got it, and told me to take my time.

I did, and I will. I am certainly still mourning the mighty soul in the little fuzzy body who was my constant companion and muse for nearly 17 years – through my entire mystery-writing career. But I am also, now, excited about the future.

This fall, I have what I think of as my biggest, best book ever – World Enough – coming out. This book is a departure for me, being more noir than cozy, but it is the culmination of decades of writing, thinking, living... At any rate, for me it is huge. Officially, World Enough will be published in the U.S. on Nov. 1 by Severn House, but I'll be starting publicity for it soon (Bouchercon, New England Crime Bake, events at Harvard Bookstore and Mysterious Bookshop, among others - click here to see if I'll be coming to a store or library near you).

The book I have been trying to finish up is a new Pru Marlowe pet noir – the first in two years! Tentatively titled Fear on Four Paws, it should be out next August (from Poisoned Pen Press).

This will follow a third Blackie & Care mystery, which I finished in the spring. On Feb. 28 (UK)/June 1 (US), Cross My Path will bring back my brave black cat narrator as he unravels the mystery of his own life and transformation, all while he protects and aids the fearless girl whom he loves. (Thank you, Severn House, for believing in this series!)

But as this new year dawns, I am now getting ready to tackle a new project, near and dear to my heart: A Spell of Murder, the first in the Witch Cats of Cambridge cozy series. The witch cat series combines so much that matters to me – cats and their people, a touch of magic, whimsy, and a lot of love. I'll tell you all more about this soon, but I have to say, in all my sadness, I am so excited to be going forward with A Spell of Murder for Polis Books. My funny little person won't be sitting beside me for this one. But I like to think that Musetta – like my late, great Cyrus was as the spectral Mr. Grey of my Dulcie mysteries, and in the spirit of Theda Krakow's Musetta, Dulcie's Esme, and Pru's Wallis, whom she inspired – is still with me. I can feel her there now, purring in approval and curled up so comfortably right by my feet that I really must write just one more sentence before I quit for the day...

Musetta, March 28, 2001–Sept. 20, 2017

l'shana tova, folks. Happy new year to you all.

Some cheering news (new books!)

This happened this week, too. More cat mysteries on the way. So that is cheering!

From Publishers Marketplace: September 21, 2017
Digital: Fiction: Mystery/Crime
Author of the Pru Marlowe series Clea Simon's A SPELL OF MURDER, the first in her new "Witch Cats of Cambridge" series about a newly single woman training to be a witch, unbeknownst to her that her three felines are the ones with the real powers and must band together to solve a crime when their owner is accused of murder, to Jason Pinter at Polis Books, in a two-book deal, by Colleen Mohyde at The Colleen Mohyde Agency (World).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

And then there was Musetta....

Again, from The Feline Mystique (St. Martin's, 2002):

In early March, we go to Texas and close-dance at the Broken Spoke. We eat barbecue, and buy cowboy boots. (THat's not why we went, but as I admire my ostrich-clad feet, I must say it was a high point.) I have begun to feel like myself again. One awful moment: After the long flight, as the cab nears our building, I hear it in my head as loudly as if he were saying it, Jon's voice exulting, "We're going to see a kitty!" just like he used to whenever we returned from a trip. (I hope he forgives me for revealing this.) My heart leaped in anticipation. Only he's not saying that, and we won't, ever again. I've lost my kitty. But then we go indoors, and I think I'll be okay.

On May 19, we adopt Musetta, a longhaired black-and-white female with an off-center star on her nose and round eyes like owl's. She wasn't the only kitten at the Animal Rescue League that day, and we told each other that we didn't need to choose any yet. But then she reached out for us, little white mitten extended to draw our fingers close, and our hearts were hooked as well. She's got the loudest voice I've ever heard in a kitten, and when she peeps for attention she stares straight at you to make sure she's getting it. Just seven weeks old, she's not the most coordinated bundle of fur on the planet, and when she hops down the hallway she looks for all intents and purposes like a long-tailed bunny. She's not the old friend that Cyrus was, but she is adorable, and already she lets me stroke her belly. I see how trusting she is, and how soft. When she falls asleep next to me, purring like a little engine, I feel myself warm to her. This is, after all, a love story.
* * *
Remembering our dear Musetta, who we lost today, 16 1/2 years after I wrote this. Our riot grrrl, our funny little kitty, who brought us so much joy.

Remembering Cyrus, 1984-2001

(from The Feline Mystique)

JANUARY 25, 2001

Well, our dear kitty – the sixteen-year-old perfect master – is gone. It was as good as it could be. He spent the last night with us. First he dragged himself into the living room and we lifted him onto the couch and he crawled onto my lap and purred. Then we took him to bed with us and he spent most of the night there. He even kneaded my arm weakly. At around 5 a.m., he wanted to get down. He tried to walk to the foot of the bed where the steps were for him, but he fell over. I pulled him back from the edge so he wouldn't fall off and soon he tried again, so I helped him down to the carpet and he made his proud, stiff way back to his bed in the office, slow drag by slow drag by slow drag. Most of the morning we sat with him. He came out of his bed and ate a little, drank a little, lying on the rug. Then he dragged himself back into his bed, and we sat with him.

At two o'clock, Melissa came. Cyrus was so weak, he was like a warm doll when Jon picked him up out of his bed and brought him into the living room and handed him to me. We sat on the living room floor with him, and he growled at Melissa just like old times, only a little softer. I looked away away as she gave him the first shot, to sedate him, and Jon held both of us, then I passed him to Jon who held him awhile, and we both kissed him and talked to him. He was unconscious, floppy as a rag doll, but still warm, still our kitty. Then Jon handed him back to me and Melissa gave him the shot that stopped his heart and I held him and Jon petted him and I felt his pounding heart slow and stop. Melissa then left us along for a while, and we held his little body and cried and said good-bye again.

We went out for a long walk after Melissa left (she took him for cremation), stopping finally for a beer and some food and later, the movie Chocolat. Don't ask if it was good or not, and don't read further if you plan on seeing it. All I can tell you for certain is that Judi Dench's character had a cat, a fine healthy cat, and that made me cry. I think Jon was crying too. Then Judi Dench died, and we both bawled out loud. I think the cat was okay, although I don't clearly remember i you see him again or not, and I never want to see that movie again.

Coming home was terrible. Going to bed without him was terrible. As I write this it's the next day, and that's terrible too. He was the perfect companion, so much personality in such a little package.

Today, I have a cat-sized hole in my heart

Musetta is gone.
March 28, 2001–Sept. 20, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

#FelineFriday - Hidden Tiger edition

Good news from the big cat world! According to this story in the New York Times, the Javan tiger – which has been considered extinct – may still be wandering in the wild!

As the report reads, "Rangers at Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java last month photographed a big cat unlike any previously seen in the preserve. The pictures, released this week, set off a flurry of speculation that one of Indonesia’s legendary species was still alive..." (read more here).

Meanwhile, snow leopards are being taken off the endangered species list. That doesn't mean that they're not still at risk, though. (Read more here.)

Prefer your cat news in mystery form? Sign up for my newsletter here for the latest in cozy kitties and rock and roll cats! (You can unsubscribe at any time!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

"Gritty and Gripping" (thank you, BOLO Books)!

BOLO Books (as in "be on the lookout") previews fall crime fiction, and I'm THRILLED to say that "World Enough" made the cut of books to look out for!

BOLO writes: "As always, competition for these slots was tough. Which books are generating that elusive buzz in the publishing industry? Which are books that I have been waiting for?"

The post then goes on to cite new books by greats like Val Mcdermid (I'm reading her "Insidious Intent" now)and the first in Victoria Thompson's new series (love her). And right in there is "World Enough," saying, "Clea Simon is typically known for her cozy writing, but here she makes a strong departure with a crime novel centered around Boston’s club culture and secrets that lie buried in the past. I’ve heard it is gritty and gripping." I hope it lives up to the hype – and I'm ever so grateful that BOLO is giving it a shot!

You can read the full post here: APB - Fall 2017.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rock trivia!

Hey, Greater Boston-area rockers!
Come on out tonight for Rock 'n' Roll Trivia tonight (Monday) at Once in Somerville. Erin Amar (of Rockerzine) and local legend Brett Milano will be handling the main duties – and they've asked me to help out too! We'll help you organize into teams, if you come alone and want to team up. And among the MANY prizes, we'll be giving away a copy of my "World Enough." Plus, it's taco night!

Friday, September 8, 2017

I can haz news?

Gearing up for the new school year means new books! If you want to hear the latest on what I'm writing, who I'm chatting with, and what's coming up next, please consider signing up for my (very occasional) newsletter here. (You can unsubscribe at any time!) There's lots brewing that I want to tell you about – and I'm going to be offering prizes, too! (And happy #FelineFriday!)


Musetta, hard at work

Thursday, September 7, 2017

No, I'm not writing about your band

"So, tell me the truth. What band is the Aught Nines supposed to be?"
"None. It's fiction."
"Ha! I thought you'd say that. You just don't want to tell me."

I'm hearing this more and more these days, as advance copies of World Enough go out and readers – members of the local scene – weigh in. But I'm not hiding anything, it's true: While I try to depict the rock scene of the mid- to late-'80s, with all it wild fun, fury, and excess, the people in my mystery are not based on real characters. The scene, however, well, that's real. I mean, did I ever see a drummer get so drunk that he vomited and passed out, falling off his stool before the band could play its first song? No. But did it happen? Yeah, probably. That's how things were back then...

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"Into the Grey" in paperback!

My latest Dulcie Schwartz mystery, "Into the Grey," is out today in paperback!"Well plotted," says Publishers Weekly!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Helping Houston

There are so many people who need so much - the Red Cross is a great place to start. But for those of you who, like me, are animal lovers, here is a link to SPCA Texas: spca.org or here. SPCA Texas has also posted an Amazon wishlist for those who would rather donate specific items: here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The best band you've never heard of...

They should have been huge...

if they existed at all!


World Enough, coming Nov. 1, 2017, from Severn House.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Can cats see things we can't?

Happy #FelineFriday! To celebrate what we've all long suspected, I'm sharing an article that suggests that cats (and dogs, too) can "see" things that are invisible to the human eye - certain wavelengths and lights. And maybe, just maybe, spirits... (click here)

Friday, August 11, 2017

That's a cougar, and I ain't lion...

Do we have mountain lions here in Massachusetts, or is the Eastern cougar truly extinct? The question was the basis of my 2014 Pru Marlowe pet noir mystery, Panthers Play for Keeps. It's a debate that has raged for years and this post on Facebook has brought it back to the public eye. Panther or no? What do you think? And happy #FelineFriday! (Read more here.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

"Simon ... gets it exactly right" (Thank you!)

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." – Joyce Millman (Village Voice, McSweeneys), writing on Goodreads.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

"the gritty past..."


When hardest of the hard-boiled author Thomas Pluck moderated a panel I was on at last year's Bouchercon, I didn't expect to find much common ground. But, as is often true of crime writers, Pluck - whose motto is "unflinching fiction" - was warm, witty, welcoming, and a downright blast to work with. I've now read his new Bad Boy Boogie, which is sharp, sharp, sharp - full of blood and really imaginative killings but also emotionally astute and very funny as well. So, of course, I sent him an advance copy of "World Enough." And I was THRILLED when he included it - along with the great Don Winslow – as one of his Books of Summer.

Thomas Pluck (BAD BOY BOOGIE)

THE FORCE by Don Winslow is the summer crime blockbuster this year, and deservedly so. Winslow mastered the crime epic with THE CARTEL and now he aims his investigative skills northward to look into the abyss of the failed American Drug War.

I also enjoyed WORLD ENOUGH, by Clea Simon, which comes out in a month or two. It's a nostalgic trip back to the '80s Boston rock scene by someone who was there. Simon's best known for her cat mysteries like hardboiled (or should I say tough mouser?) THE NINTH LIFE but she is equally adept evoking the gritty past of the sleazy rock clubs of our youth.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Meet Trooper (and happy #FelineFriday)

Six-week-old Trooper was injured and overheated when Mass. State Trooper John DeNapoli found him. Now fully recovered (and in his forever home), he was reunited with his rescuer for a happy ending. (Full story here.) You're welcome!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"Great story and eerily authentic..." Thank you, Tanya Donelly!

WORLD ENOUGH illustrates the community-unifying power of music and the community-rending power of drugs/alcohol, and the fact that those two forces often meet in the same rooms at the same time ~ plus, it’s a thriller! Great story and eerily authentic, which is not surprising ~ Clea has been documenting the Boston music scene for some time now, and knows her subject.” – Tanya Donelly, Throwing Muses/The Breeders/Belly


I'm so honored!

Monday, July 24, 2017

The story behind the story...

No, I'm not researching a book. Rather, I'm avoiding writing. I started going through some of the boxes of my mom's stuff this weekend (she died six years ago, so ... overdue) and found this. My mother's mother, my grandmother, Anna ("Annie" here) is top right. I remember her quite well - that expression.....

Friday, July 21, 2017

Helping the feral cats of Boston... (for #FelineFriday)

All it takes are a few strays... (this great article in the Boston Globe tags along with some local "cat ladies" doing TNR - trap, neuter, return – in the Boston area: click here.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Do you ever doubt yourself?


Do you ever doubt yourself when writing or doing something creative/dear to your heart? (AKA, are you human?) Well the brilliant Caroline Leavitt just posted this technique over on her page: A brilliant friend of mine told me to name that stupid, ugly voice inside of me that says you can't, you're stupid, you have no talent, because once you name it, you can dismiss it and take away its power.

I am calling that voice the Laughing Face, and I am slamming the door on it NOW.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Revisiting old friends...

That's what summer is for, right? So this summer, as I await the U.S. publication of my dark new World Enough, I'm revisiting one of my favorite heroines, a gal I haven't spent time with in a while. And, of course, her irascible tabby ... more news as I have it!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday, wildlife division!

Cats come in all shapes and sizes, so let's celebrate the comeback of the Florida panther! And, yes, this proud panther mom even has kittens!

And, yes, I did write about the New England version of this beautiful wild cat in my "Panthers Play for Keeps" (now available in paperback and e-book!)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

What do you read when you've got the time?

If you're Hillary Clinton, the list includes a lot crime fiction (and some poetry) too. See her list here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The bones in the basement...

I don't write historical mysteries, although I love to read them. But this discovery - of human remains in the basement of Benjamin Franklin's London home, dated to the period when he lived there – might cut a bit close to the, uh, bone. Still, this would be a great prompt for somebody. Anyone out there write historicals? (Read the news story here.)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

See you in Toronto!

Just got the great news that I'm invited to be on the "la femme cherche" (female sleuths) panel on Thurs., Oct. 12, at 1 p.m. at Bouchercon. That means I get to play the rest of the weekend! (And seriously, please do contact me if you want to get together.) What is Bouchercon, you ask? Why only the biggest mystery/crime fiction party of the YEAR. Already, over 700 authors have signed up... Check it out here.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Calling all reviewers and book bloggers!

You've been hearing me go on about my upcoming rock & roll mystery, World Enough. You've seen that Catriona McPherson notes its "authority," calling it "highly recommended." And that Joe Finder calls it "excellent," with "just the right mix of edge and nostalgia." Well, now you can request a review copy from NetGalley here.(If you're a critic or book blogger and don't know about NetGalley, you should! It's free to join up and most publishers now make ARCs – advance reading copies – available through the site.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Celebrating a free and independent press

As we celebrate the Fourth of July, let us celebrate and continue to support the free press, which holds the powers that be accountable by asking the questions and digging up the answers. The press is a vital part of our democracy and must be protected. So on this holiday, let's share favorite films or TV shows about journalism...

Monday, July 3, 2017

Favorite films about writing...

Besides the beach, a holiday is a chance to catch up on some favorite movies (ideally, in an air-conditioned setting)! Dana Cameron, a lovely writer of killer mysteries (who also just had her "Site Unseen" made into a movie for the Hallmark channel), started a Facebook thread about movies about writing. She was watching "Impromptu," which stars Judy Davis as the novelist George Sand (and Hugh Grant as her real-life love interest, Chopin!). I, of course, immediately thought of the great line laughed out by one of her exes, "The horse is a critic!" (You have to see it.) And then I remembered "Topsy Turvy," which has the single best film moment of a writer getting the idea for a creation (in this case, the wonderful Jim Broadbent playing Wm S. Gilbert in the moment that he conceives of "The Mikado"). And so I have to ask: What are your favorite films or TV shows about writers, writing, or the creative process?

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Holiday weekend tips for pets

Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend but keep your pets safe and healthy too. These smart tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association cover everything from fireworks to picnic safety: tips

Friday, June 30, 2017

Happy #FelineFriday and #FelineFourth

My sister Cat Writers Association writer Layla Morgan Wilde shares these tips for keeping your kitty cool and calm during what can be a disturbing holiday. TO start with, keep kitty inside...

more here.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

An embarrassment of riches...

As you may know, I've got my big rock 'n' roll noir, World Enough, cued up to come out Nov. 1 in the states (it pubs earlier in the UK). And my next Blackie & Care feline mystery, Cross My Path, is in edits and scheduled for June 2018 (both with Severn House, if you want to check in for updates - or you can always do that here). But I'm not the type to not be writing, so I've been trying to get back to work.

The plan was to draft a new cat cozy this summer, something lighter than both World Enough and Cross My Path. And then, in the fall, start another darker mystery, something to build on World Enough, perhaps. And I have ideas for both (titles too, but not telling yet...). Only one day I start work on one, and the next I get an idea for the other. I always tell myself I should at least jot down these ideas when they come. But can I write two books at once? Can I make myself focus? I know, it's a nice problem to have.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

WORLD ENOUGH is now shipping!

Yikes! You work so long on something. You try so hard to do your best... I first started writing my rock and roll mystery WORLD ENOUGH more than ten years ago. That's a story for another time, but it is finally done, and I've been patiently trying to wait until its Nov. 1 U.S. publication date, knowing full well that the finished book will start to show up for sale sometime after its July 10 UK pub. date.

What I didn't expect was that it would show up BEFORE its UK pub date. But... I just got a notice from the Book Depository, an absolutely wonderful online outlet that not only routinely offers discounts but also ships free worldwide. And, yeah, WORLD ENOUGH is now available. At a discount. Takes five to eight business days to U.S. addresses.

Do I want you to wait until it comes out here? Buy it at one of my events? Well, sure, but ...

Am I kind of nervous about actually seeing the final version? What do you think?

Anyway, it's up to you. Click here for more info: World Enough from the Book Depository.

Monday, June 19, 2017

"Let's go to the Rat..."

"WORLD ENOUGH “transported me back to clubs, where the floors were sticky, the sound was distorted, where we danced mindlessly to the sounds that were the soundtrack of our lives. This was our tribe, our scene, our being. Through the cigarette haze we lived for the moment and thought of no future…” – Oedipus, ex-WBCN

Long before I wrote World Enough, I was living it... (from Sunday's Boston Globe)

Friday, June 16, 2017

Yoga with cats for #FelineFriday

Sister Cat Writers Association member and renowned cat blogger Ingrid King has the final (funny/true) word on yoga with cats in the special "Well" section of the New York Times. (Read it here.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Busy, busy, busy...

Regular readers will know that I'm super excited to have my rock 'n' roll noir WORLD ENOUGH coming out this fall (UK pub date July 10, US pub date Nov. 1). And I'm thrilled that my third Blackie & Care black cat mystery, CROSS MY PATH, has been scheduled for early next year (Feb. 28 in the UK, June 1 in the US). But you should know I don't like too much down time. So what's next? I will let you know soon...

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this...

Monday, June 12, 2017

Life imitates art imitates life...

Back in the Paleozoic (OK, the '80s), I was a rock critic. And while I covered a pretty wide variety of what might be labeled pop music (from reggae to county, an experience that introduced me to zydeco and Cajun), my heart belonged to the garage-punk scene centered in clubs like CBGB's or Boston's own Rat.* That's the scene I wanted to evoke in my upcoming noir mystery, World Enough, in which a former rock critic gets an assignment to revisit her old stomping grounds and finds ... murder.

So imagine my surprise when, last month, I got an assignment from the Boston Globe Magazine to revisit the Rat and why it served as the epicenter for that particular scene. This was a case of life imitating art imitating life, and I relished the opportunity to revisit the club that was not only my home away from home but that introduced me to my family of choice and, ultimately, to the possibility of writing as a career was wonderful. Only this time (spoiler alert), no bodies have surfaced in this particular outing! I've inset links above (as well as here for the magazine story and here for the book), but here's a PDF of the magazine story and, below it, my World Enough cover.


*And, yes, the Channel and Jumpin' Jack Flash and Streets and Cantone's and Storyville and Jack's and Jonathon Swifts and Bunratty's and Chet's Last Call and ...

Friday, June 9, 2017

Resistance – and kitten rescue – for this #FelineFriday

“a little black animal making haste to meet the boat. A young muskrat? A mink? No, it was a little dot of a kitten..." Read more about this fascinating exhibit of Henry David Thoreau's journals and artifacts here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It's official!

My third Blackie & Care mystery, CROSS MY PATH, will be published by Severn House on Feb. 28, 2018 in the UK/June 1 2018 in the U.S.

My marvelous and brilliant editor calls it, "a wonderfully gripping, suspenseful and atmospheric read," and goes on to say "As with the previous two novels, the dark, dystopian, urban landscape is richly evoked, as is the touchingly protective relationship between Blackie and Care, two vulnerable creatures looking out for one another ...

As you can imagine, I am over the moon!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Musetta says, 'vote this #FelineFriday!'

Musetta says: Why not vote for the single cat-centered entry in this AllAuthor book cover contest? It only takes a moment! And then go hug your kitty. (Vote here.)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

"As Dark As My Fur" is a finalist!

in this wonderful AllAuthors Cover of the Month Contest! I'm so honored. If you have a moment, would you please click through and vote for my book?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

New England Mobile Book Fair is saved! (maybe?)

Well, for the next two years anyway... plus, it's not too far from the great indie bookstore's current spot!

From the Boston Globe:

Owner Tom Lyons, who’d warned customers a few months ago he needed to downsize or close, has found a new space not far from the 32,000-square-foot warehouse space on Needham Street in Newton Highlands that has been home for 50 years.


Lyons says the New England Mobile Book Fair is moving just a few blocks away — to the Marshalls Plaza on Needham Street. He’s hoping to be open in the new space, which will be less than a quarter of the size of the old space, by mid-June.

read more here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Amateur sleuths with spooky help...

Booklist is celebrating May is Mystery Month with a series of roundups, and my latest Dulcie Schwartz cozy, "Into the Grey," made it into this one on haunted mysteries.

Want to see who else made the cut? Click here.

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).