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).

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)