Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Plain Sight

Series Television: IN PLAIN SIGHT
Season One/Netflix Series

Mary Shepherd and her partner aptly named Marshall are U.S. Marshalls and they are assigned the branch of witness protection. mary can't tell her family what she actually does so they think she mostly spends her time at the courthouse and eats donuts. Speaking of family mary's mother loves to drink and her sister while cute can be trouble with a capitol T and if that isn't enough her boyfriend Rafe is sooo good looking but at times he doesn't think before he tells mary what he thinks....
Marshall her partner is tall and lanky and has the innocence of the boy next door and wry sense of humor.
When the series starts in season one we have a young college student who is native american and she is murdered she has her heart cut out. Another epissode had mary protecting a witness who is getting married and mary gets to be her bridesmaid which has her wearing one of the worst bridesmaid dresses on the face of the earth. Her witness is a gold digging slut with a heart of gold but is more trouble and headache than Mary likes to allow a witness to be.
There is also a father whose son is murdered and the father is a spoprano wanna be but as bad as he is it's his wife that is even maybe a little more unhinged than him. Then we also have an epiosode where there is a diabetic smart assed witness who they are hiding that gets marshall shot and Mary has to save Marshall's life and protect the witness. Talk about being boxed in it's one surprise after another with this witness.
To top it all off mary has a birthday and her mother gives a what is supposed to b a surprise party and her sister gets her feelings hurt.
I love this series and right from the start you know Mary is gutsy, smart and dysfuntional and so is her family.
Pamela James

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review - Aunt DImity Takes a Holiday

Mystery series
Page count 282
ISBN" 0-7862-5119-0
 It was bound to happen sooner or later but it happened with this particular book. I found Lori Sheperd very annoying in this book. I'll explain at the end of the review:

Lori Shepherd's husband Bill is summoned to the country estate of the Earl of Elstyn and sine the Earl is Lori's is Derek's father and the father-inlaw of her Emma, (lori's beloved friends) and more important since Emma asks Lori to accompany her to the estate because she has a bad feeling about Derek and his  estranged father, Lori finds herself packing her bags. Especially since her husband wants her to accompany him.
The day they arrive the find the fire department on their heels as someone has caught the hedge on fire. Then Lori meets the rest of the family and soon learns there is good reason for Emma to worry, not only about Derek but also his cousin Simon. Simon is getting poison pen notes and Lori finds herself turning to Aunt Dimity for help. Bill is far too busy taking meeting after meeting far into the night and early in the morning to take much notice of anything.
The game of cat and killer are afoot but not before there are accidents and many suspects.
I found AUNT DIMITY TAKES A HOLIDAY to be a bit tiresome as Lori jumps to a conclusion about her husband and the lady lawyer who is as cold as ice. I also found Lori to be not as strong of a character as she has been in past and future books. Over all the plot wasn't bad but some of the characters left me somewhat wanting.
I ive this book ****** stars out of ten.

Review - Forty Whacks by David Kent

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: Yankee Books; First Edition edition (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0899093515
  • ISBN-13: 978-0899093512
We all know the rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.
But we also know that Lizzie was acquitted by a jury of her peers.  Many books have been written on the subject and most have decided opinions on whether she did it or not.
What I liked about this book, is the author really tried to sort through all the glaring yellow-journalism, the rumors and innuendos and the downright lies that we think are truth.  And I think he did a great job of it.
It is also an interesting portrait into the legal system of the time.  Both the prosecution and defense agreed in advance that no men under middle age would sit on the jury.  Imagine that today in the days of the ACLU.
The bottom line is, the prosecution didnt prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt IMHO and therefore the vedict was a good one.  Whether she did it or not -- I just don't know.  There are ceratinly oddities in her story.  The time factor makes it hard to fathom and the true murder weapon wasnt found (one of the most interesting things I found in this book). Where could she have disposed of it?
The parents seemed horrible.  The father was worth a half million dollars and wouldn't even have indoor plumbing.  And they ate leftover mutton for a couple days so as not to waste.  That had been sitting out overnight in the HOT summer.  No wonder they were all sick.
Anyway - the myth lives on, kids still skip rope to the jingle and we will likely never know for sure but that is why it continues to fascinate us.

Review - Murder at Longbourn

Genre: Cozy Mystery Series (first book in series)
Hardcover-large print edition
ISBN: 978-1-80285-701-8
Elizabeth Parker is taking a New Year's stance. She is getting rid of all things unhealthy for her and she started with her boyfriend, then has dumped fatty foods, sugar and quite frankly taking bad advice. Still she's a little down since her best friend is getting proposed to as the ball will drop at New Years so when an invitation to her help her aunt at her newly opened Bed-n-breakfast arrives well Elizabeth can't pack fast enough for an escape to Cap Cod.
However all is not rosie for Aunt Winnie because one of her friends wants to buy her property and the house. Not going to happen but when he is murdered all fingers point to Aunt Winne. Elizabeth must sleuth and when she does she find many secrets, and that several people had a motive to murder the wealthy man. But the worst is yet to come because also at the bed-n-breakfast is her long time pain in the butt Peter McGowan is all grown up and sexy as ever but he still gets under Elizabeth's skin in more ways than one. Still in this case he might be useful. However her resolution to acheive inner peace may have to wait a bit longer.
This new cozy series has all the makings of a winning combination. Elizabeth Parker has guts, beauty and brains. A cleverly written who dunit with characters that are lively and spunky. Don't miss this new to the scene cozy series.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Guest Blogger - Jane Lindskold

Victims and Villains

I try not to write either victims or villains.  When talking about the characters in my books, I don’t even use the words “heroes” and “villains.”  Protagonists and antagonists, sure, but not villains and never victims.

Yes.  Some characters in my books become victims within the unfolding of events.  Perhaps the character I’ve been given the most grief over is Citrine who, in the course of the “Wolf Series” (also known as the “Firekeeper Saga”), goes though a really bad patch.

As for villains, I’m a firm believer that no one, not even historical figures – like Stalin or Hitler – who were responsible for the deaths and torture of many thousands of people, gets up in the morning, rubs his or her hands briskly together, and says: “Ah-hah!  I think I’ll do something really evil today.”

For this reason, you’re not going to find any glowing eye in the sky brooding over a devastated landscape in my novels.  If characters dress all in black with skulls for jewelry, they’re into Goth fashion.

What you will find in my novels are people who commit completely heinous acts (like having their own child’s finger chopped off) and yet still manage to believe that what they are doing is all for the greater good.

Yes.  I do believe in evil, but I also believe in the capacity of intelligent beings of any type to justify their actions.  Read interviews with serial killers.  Most see themselves as the victims.  The same goes for leaders of genocidal armies, mass suicides, or even professional torturers.  It’s all the other guy’s fault or, at creepy best, a bit of fun that got out of control.

I’ve never been one of those writers – and I know some who do this – who deliberately create a character to serve as a victim in order to manipulate reader reaction.  Like I said, I’ve heard writers brag about doing this: creating the cute kid or kitten or whatever meant to die and bring tears to the reader’s eyes.

If a character in one of my books is harmed, I feel it.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve wept for these fictional people.  When I had to write the scene where Changer loses his eye – a scene that had to be “on-stage” – I wrote around it until I could get up the courage.

So, victims and villains.  You’ll find them both in my works, but I never think of them as such.  To me, they’re all people, doing what they do because that’s how the world has worked out them.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Guest Blogger - Eileen Wilks


Writers spend a lot of time with people who don’t exist. We listen to the voices in our heads. We often talk about these voices--our characters--“taking over.”

Fortunately, we have a socially sanctioned excuse for this behavior. We’re supposed to believe in these imaginary friends of ours, make them come alive so we can share their pitfalls and pratfalls, their triumphs and tragedies, with others. Sanity is all in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it?

I’m often asked why I chose to write about a Chinese American protagonist. I’m never sure what to say. The question presumes that this was my choice, my decision, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like Lily Yu just showed up, carefully keeping the heels of her new black pumps from a pool of sticky blood while she studied what was left of a young man’s face.

From that point on, my job was to figure out who this Yu person was. I’ve been doing that for six books now, and am madly trying to finish the seventh.

What is my relationship with my characters? No more confusing, ambiguous, changeable, and profound than any of my other relationships, I suppose. And no less.

My characters are not me. They arise from me, they dwell within me, they draw on parts of me . . . all the me’s that don’t quite exist, but might have. If I’d been born Chinese American and able to taste magic on my skin, I might have been like Lily Yu. If I’d been born male and able to switch skins and was the heir to a werewolf clan, I might have been like Rule Turner.

But these maybe-me’s always end up going beyond the merely-me. They say and do things I don’t expect. They balk if I try to move them in a direction I consider logical, even inevitable, and won’t let me proceed until I listen to them. They enjoy different music than I do. Rule loves opera, which I cannot listen to for long, even for him. Lily likes classical and pop. Cullen is all about drumming and rock ‘n roll, while Cynna Weaver is into metal, hard rock, and rap. I can’t stand rap, except when I’m writing Cynna.

They see the world differently than I do. Lily Yu is a devout agnostic whose mantra might be: “We don’t know, we can’t know, and I don’t want to talk about it.” Her mate, Rule, sees deity in the feminine, though he belongs to a race of men and only men--for in their world, werewolves cannot be female. Yet another character—Cynna, the one who likes hard rock and rap—is a practicing Catholic. And Arjenie Fox, from my current work-in-progress, is enthusiastically Wiccan.

Yes, they see the world differently from me, these people of mine--and from each other. Somehow they manage to get along anyway, to tolerate and even celebrate their differences . . . most of the time. A psychologist might have a lot to say about that.

Me, I like to think this is the one magic I’ve been granted in my ordinary, waking world—the chance to be a co-creator of reality, to bring these people into their own sort of being, even if it isn’t the being-ness we usually recognize. What’s my relationship to them?

It’s a mystery. I like it that way.

* * *

Eileen Wilks is a USA Today best-selling author, multiple RITA finalist, and winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times. Her current release, BLOOD MAGIC, is the sixth book in her World of the Lupi series.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review - Biggie and The Mangled Mortician

large print -hardcover
;Texas grandma Biggie Weatherford loves to sleuth local murders. J.R. her grandson narrates this series and he tells it like only a ten year old can and JR always ends up helping solve the murders.
In this book the mortican retires and the new mortican is murdered. Biggie has a list of suspects and since the florist is also the Police Chief until they can find someone else willing to take the job Biggie is definitely in great demand to solve the murder. She sends Rosebud (her handyman) to Arkansas to check out Pastor Poteet and low and behold if Rosebud doesn't find out that Monk Carter the murder victim isn't from Arkansas too and he isn't no mortican. What he was is a bad guy and trouble, Rosebud finds out that Rev.Poteet is also a gambler.
The plot thickens and even JR's four pet mice help in a way only four pet mice running loose can and JR is sure he is going to be in trouble but instead Biggie rewards the mice.
This is a light, fast and fun mystery with memorable characters. I enjoyed reading this mystery last week and if you enjoy a messy murder and a murder victim who had to die because he was just too bad to live, if you like to laugh and want a book to read while drinking your ice tea or rather sweet tea and if you like coconut layer cake then BIGGIE AND THE MANGLED MORTICIAN is your slice of heaven.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guest Blogger - James R Benn

My Victims; why did they have to die?
The poor victims. Mine have been blown up, shot, hung, knifed, and incinerated. It hasn’t been pretty, and leaves my wondering how I’ve wandered into cozy territory over here at Mayhem and Magic. Well, Pamela asked, and I said sure. Since my cup of tea is more likely to be a double Irish whiskey, I’ll give you some background before talking about the victims. They can wait. They’re dead.
I write a mystery series set during World War II in Europe. My main character is Billy Boyle, a Boston cop from an Irish-American family where police work is the family business, handed down father to son as a sacred sinecure. Billy made detective at a young age, just before Pearl Harbor. The fact that his father was a homicide detective and his uncle sat on the promotions board had nothing to do with it, or so he claims. Being of Irish descent, and ardent Republicans (of the IRA type, not Herbert Hoover), the Boyles were not among those cheering for another war to be fought on the side of the British. Aiming to keep Billy safe, they called upon political favors and a favor from a distant relative on his mother’s side, an unknown general laboring at the new Pentagon building in Washington DC, where Billy could sit out the war in safety.
That unknown general, Dwight David Eisenhower, was soon plucked from obscurity to head US forces in Europe. He took Billy with him, glad to have an experienced detective to investigate low crimes in high places. Billy, having little actual experience, is loathe to reveal this to his Uncle Ike, and struggles to do the right thing each time he is called upon. Some of that is due to his unwillingness to disappoint Ike, but also he wants to avoid getting booted from headquarters into a combat outfit.
So what motivates a guy like Billy? In the first book (BILLY BOYLE) he comes to England with a chip on his shoulder, and is mainly concerned with staying out of danger. He needed the war to become personal, so not too far into the book, a close friend is killed, the first murder victim of the series. This was a personal affront, and he was off and running after the murderer. My choice angered some readers, who had come to like this character during his (or her) time on the stage. That told me I had chosen well.
The latest title, EVIL FOR EVIL, starts with a victim already dead, and this lessens the impact for the reader; there’s been no emotional involvement, and the character serves his purpose well, propelling Billy into the investigation. This book, the fourth, brings Billy to Northern Ireland, where he has to confront the realities of the IRA and their battle with the English. It’s a tough one for him, as the heroes of his youth become real, and he sees both sides of the issue. Here again, the personal and emotional commitment are critical. A character developed throughout much of the book becomes a victim of the killer. This man is someone Billy shares much in common, and it is this death which sends him in hot pursuit. An ongoing theme in the books is the morality of death in wartime. What does one more corpse mean in the midst of so much death and carnage? To Billy, each murder victim is an even more terrible crime during the war, since those individuals were cheated of a chance at survival.
In the next book—RAG AND BONE—due out in September 2010, the victim is not one to garner much sympathy. A Soviet official in London is found murdered, and Billy must investigate to head off a diplomatic incident. The real victims are those whose deaths are being covered up by the Soviets, with the acquiescence of the British and the Americans. They are the tens of thousands of Polish officers executed by the Soviets before Germany invaded Russia. Billy’s friend Kaz is a suspect, and Billy has to solve the mystery of why the Russian was killed to clear his friend; all while seeking justice for the thousands of Polish victims, while a personage no less than Winston Churchill wants things hushed up, for the sake of Allied unity and victory.
Whew. That’s a lot of victims. I much prefer the fictional kind, but in writing these historical mysteries, the actual events of seven decades ago still have a way of sobering even the most wise-cracking of detectives. I worry about Billy and the effect this has on him. RAG AND BONE takes place in January 1944; there’s still a lot of war to go, and more victims than he can even imagine.

James R. Benn

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guest Blogger - Liz Lipperman

Thanks, Pamela and Terri for inviting me to talk about my favorite ghost story. Until last year, I laughed when people spouted off about weird things they blamed on the supernatural.
Well, I don’t anymore!
Last February I entered a paranormal mystery in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest against my better judgment. I hate contests. I only mention this to let you know where my mind was when I entered the ABNA. It was free, so I thought what the heck and I sent it off. I forgot about it until the day they were supposed to announce the quarterfinalists – March 16th.
I was nuts that whole day, checking the Amazon site at least every ten minutes. Finally at midnight, I went to bed, but when I woke up at 3:30 am, I HAD to check. Sure enough, there was an email from Amazon time stamped 12:30 am which made it March 17th.
Now here’s where it gets spooky. TALK DEAD TO ME is a story about four sisters who come together for the funeral of the fifth sister, fashioned after my own relationship with my four sisters, one of whom died many years ago. The dead woman, a loner all her life, and the heroine have been estranged for over nine years. At the funeral home, the ghost appears to the heroine to convince her to help her find her killer. I’ll spare you the details except to say, TDTM is a story about starting over, healing relationships, murder and mayhem. I made my ghost a wise-cracking, smart-mouthed woman (nothing like my real sister) who adds humor to the mix.
I sent out emails to all my relatives and told them to read the excerpt. I can’t tell you the chills I got when my nephew commented about how appropriate that I found out on the exact day his mother, my sister, had died twelve years earlier. I swear to you, in that moment when I realized he was right, I knew Theresa, my sister, had a hand in this. Knew she must have hexed the two people who reviewed my entry and bullied them into choosing it.
Amazon posted the first chapter of all the quarterfinalists’ manuscripts as a free download. To drum up reviews and send people for downloads, I guest-blogged on several sites talking up the contest. On one particular blog, I was responding to comments and I was telling a story about my sister before she died.

Theresa was 2 years older than me and we fought like cats and dogs growing up. It wasn’t until our older years that we finally developed a closer relationship (much like my characters in TDTM.) About a year before she died, she shared a secret with, making me swear not to tell my other sisters. After she died, I was on the phone with my younger sister, who is still my best friend today, and somehow she managed to get me to tell her Theresa’ secret. At the precise moment I did, the lights in my house dimmed.

I kid you not. I was so freaked out, I have never told anyone again.

Now comes the “do do do do” Twilight Zone moment. Since it was a blog, there was an anti-spam word for that particular comment. My sister’s name is Theresa but we called her Tessie. My ghost is Tessa, and the anti-spam word was TESSE.

OMG! I’m a believer. And you know what? I think I feel closer to her now than I ever did when she was alive. It’s like I know she’s watching from heaven and telling me she’s okay.

I’m crying now just thinking about it, so I’ll end this and let y’all tell me about any spooky things that happened to you.

Oh, and TDTM never sold, although an editor at Berkley loved it but couldn’t use it because she was acquiring cozies. With my smart-mouthed ghost, gruesome murder scenes, etc, she would have had to change too much of the “good stuff”, she said. Instead, she offered me a three book deal to write a cozy series. The first one comes out in July of 2011. (I’m still writing it.) Hope you check it out.


Liz Lipperman started writing many years ago, even before she retired from the medical field. Wasting many years thinking she was a romance writer but always having to deal with the pesky villains who kept popping up in all her stories, she finally gave up and decided since she read mysteries and obviously wrote them, why fight it? In December, she signed her first contract with Berkley to write a cozy series called "The Casserole Lovers Mysteries". Book One, titled Ducks In A Row, comes out in July of 2011 and is about a wannabe sports reporter stuck in a po-dunk town writing personal ads who gets the chance to write the weekly culinary column.The problem is, her expertise in the kitchen is limited to frying bologna and microwaving TV dinners. When a dead body is found under her apartment stairwell with her name and number in the victim's pocket, she becomes the prime suspect, as well as the main course on the murder menu.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Guest Blogger - Judith Tarr

A Victim of His Own...Something

One side effect of a long and prolific career is that while I'm nearly always focused on the next book (Q: What's your favorite of your books? A: The one I'm writing next), every so often, by chance or choice, I get to look back and see what I've been doing. This can range from embarrassing (I can't believe I wrote that!) to illuminating (I can't believe I wrote that!).

Aside from an ongoing fondness for big blond guys who look dumb but aren't, feisty heroines who aren't taking any crap from anybody, and intermittent cameo appearances by various of my cats and horses, I seem to have this thing for making characters the victims of their own advantages. Immortal, beautiful, powerful? They just want to be normal. Don't want to be normal? They end up having to deal with a whole raft of normal and much loved human beings whose problems are mostly their fault. And of course if they have magic (and many of them do), it's never entirely under control. Even when by all rights it should be.

When I was getting my handful of out-of-print novels ready to put up on Book View Cafe (, I had a chance to reread two that I had written one after the other as part of the same contract, A Wind in Cairo and Ars Magica. That was an interesting experience. It had been so long since I looked at them that it was almost like reading books written by someone else. I could see all their faults, the holes in their plots and their prose, the things I really shouldn't have done and the things that worked in spite of themselves. And I could see that without being aware of it, I'd followed the same trajectory of hero-cuts-swath-of-victims.

One protagonist is highly gifted in magic. One is not, but magic rules and controls him. They both make boneheaded mistakes, and those mistakes do major damage to the same category of character: a magician's daughter. A strong female character sorts each of them out and helps set everything, eventually, to rights.

What's interesting is that they're two completely different books that take off in completely different directions. One is a love story about a girl and her horse. The other is a historical-novel-with-magic about a boy who wants to know everything and ends up, in a manner of speaking, ruling the world. They're both about people who are victims of their own gifts (good and bad), but the stories they tell aren't much alike at all.

I like to pick up an idea and turn it in all sorts of different directions, and poke at it to see where it wants to go next. I usually know where I want it to end up, but how it gets there is very much up to the characters. Obviously I had some things to work through in these two books, and some themes that were just a little too big for one story.

If I'm aware of this, will it change how I write what I'm writing now? Well, yes and no. I might decide to play another riff on the theme, or I might dance completely away from it. I won't know till it happens.

And that's the best part. Even when I'm pretty sure what I'm likely to do, I'll still manage to surprise myself--and, I hope, my readers.

--Judith Tarr

Friday, March 19, 2010

Guest Blogger - Emilie Richards

I'm proud to say I've never killed anybody I liked.  Actually, in real life, I've never killed "anybody."  But on paper?  That's a different story.  I've killed strangers.  I've killed the shrewish wife of a politician, and the woman who tried to have my husband fired.  No, wait, make that the woman who tried to have my sleuth's husband fired.  Sometimes I get confused.

As my series, Ministry is Murder, has progressed, I've killed an obnoxious foster sister, a Simon Cowell wannabe gone completely to the dark side, and a celebrity chef.  Ah, the fleeting rewards of a day's work.  But along the way I've never dispatched any character I liked, nor even one who could possibly be redeemed as a human being.  Not that all my victims are one hundred percent evil.  What fun would creating that person be?  But each of my dispatchables has stepped just over that invisible line.  You know, the one that has a sign that reads: "This person isn't ever going to change for the better."  And in my mysteries?  I guess that's a death sentence.

After all that talk of blood and gore, I'll confess I'm really tenderhearted.  I stopped watching CSI when the depiction of violence increased.  I stopped reading authors who were otherwise hilarious when it became clear they found graphic descriptions of death and mayhem funniest of all.  When it comes right down to it, the traditional mystery novel is about justice, not about murder.  We don't care quite as much who gets murdered as who sets the world back to rights afterwards and how they do it.

I like setting the world to rights, and so does Aggie Sloan-Wilcox, my minister's wife sleuth.  I just feel a little sorry for the next irredeemable character we come across in Emerald Springs, Ohio.  Some people's days are numbered.

Review - It Happened One Knife by Jeff Cohen

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Mystery Series
ISBN: 978-0-425-22256-0
Page count: 296

Elliot Freed is thrilled that his renovations are almost done and this all movie theatre 'Comedy Tonight' is ready and waiting for movie goers. Being the nice guy that he is he allows his young film projectionist to air his film debut "Killin Tim" which is anything but funny, the problem arises when the film disappears and Elliot becomes the leading suspect. He didn't do it and he'll tell anyone who listens that he didn't take the Anthony's film. If this weren't enough to keep Elliot preoccupied then there is the fact that Elliot will be hosting a special showing of CRACKED ICE a Lillis & Townes comedy duo that is sure to please your funny palette.
Harry Lillis tells Elliot after the showing late that night that Les Townes murdered his actress wife and got away with it all those many decades ago. Elliot does his research and before he knows it he's hooked on finding out more about Vivian Reynold's death.
Elliot works up the nerve to go talk to Les Townes and his son Wilson but the visit doesn't go as planned and Wilson shoots him. Soon there is more than one death threat and another murder before we know it going to the movies is not laughing matter.
Elliot and his exwife rekindle their relationship and only hope they can finish it and then there is the staff at the theatre. Sophie runs the candy counter and these days she's wearing goth black and men might as well be a four letter word. Anthony is sulking and glaring at Elliot plus asking "WHy did you take my film?" The new guy Johnathan blushes at everything and every one . What's with him always wearing sandals and would it hurt the kid to be a little outgoing?
Needless the say Elliot has high drama on all fronts and murder is just the beginning of the story.
IT HAPPENED ONE KNIFE by Jeffrey Cohen is a wonderful tribute to comedy, movies, books and aging film stars. You will not be sorry you bought this book but will in fact never want the book to end.
Pamela James

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Phillip K Dick Award nominees

The Philip K. Dick Award is presented annually with the support of the Philip K. Dick Trust for distinguished science fiction published in paperback original form in the United States. The award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and the Philip K. Dick Trust, and the award ceremony is sponsored by the NorthWest Science Fiction Society.

The full list of nominees:
BITTER ANGELS by C. L. Anderson (Spectra)
THE PRISONER by Carlos J. Cortes (Spectra)
THE REPOSSESSION MAMBO by Eric Garcia (Harper)
THE DEVIL'S ALPHABET by Daryl Gregory (Del Rey)
CYBERABAD DAYS by Ian McDonald (Pyr)
CENTURIES AGO AND VERY FAST by Rebecca Ore (Aqueduct Press)
PROPHETS by S. Andrew Swann (DAW Books

Review - The Circle by Peter Lovesey

Author: Peter Lovesey
Publisher:SoHo Press
ISBN: 0-7862-8099-9
British Mystery

Bob Naylor loves to write limericks and jingles. He is a widow with a teenage daughter who convinces him to join a writer's circle. He's afraid that he won't fit into the circle, but against his better judgment attends a meeting. First he finds that the circle members come from all walks of the class system. They write fantasy, romance, gardening, even subjects like family history and serial killer books. A couple of them don't write anything at all one just draws and the other is there he likes to listen to what others in the group have to say about their work.
A few weeks before Bob joins the group a publisher Edgar Blacker was a guest speaker at the meeting. Since that time Edgar Blacker died in his bed and the police think it's arson what's more interesting is the chairman of the group is arrested for murder. Nobody believe Maurice McDade murdered anyone and the group wants to do something to help free Maurice. Soon Bob is caught up in the chatter of who murdered Edgar Blacker and what's gets talked into helping with a side investigation away from the current one by the police.
What happens next is one by one members of the circle are murdered. Bob does a favor for the treasurer of the group Miss. Snow who is elderly the favor almost costs Bob his life.
One by one the remaining members of the group all have something to hide and even though Bob is in over his head he has to finish his promise to find out what these murders are all about and before it's too late and another murder happens he follows the clues, talks to the families, friends and members and soon a deadly and dangerous picture emerges.
THE CIRCLE by Peter Lovesey is well written, cleverly plotted and chalk full of mystery and suspense. The pen may be mightier than the sword but only if you live to write the story.
Pamela James

PEARL award finalists 2009

2009 Finalists are:

NIGHTWALKER by Heather Graham
THE SWORD AND THE PEN by Elysa Hendricks
THORN QUEEN by Richelle Mead

OBSIDIAN PREY by Jayne Castle
HEART CHANGE by Robin D. Owens
GUARDIAN by Angela Knight
SCARLET by Jordan Summers
BLAZE OF MEMORY by Nalini Singh

ANGELS' BLOOD by Nalini Singh
WHITE STAR by Elizabeth Vaughn
BURNING ALIVE by Shannon Butcher

DIAMOND STAR by Catherine Asaro
HOPE'S FOLLY by Linnea Sinclair
BEYOND THE RAIN by Jess Granger

BURNING WILD by Christine Feehan
DRAGON MOON by Rebecca York
MORTAL SINS by Eileen Wilks
BRANDED BY FIRE by Nalini Singh
LEADER OF THE PACK by Karen MacInerney
WILD HIGHLAND MAGIC by Kendra Leigh Castle

TIME FOR ETERNITY by Susan Squires
GUARDIAN by Angela Knight
CREIGHTON MANOR by Karen Michelle Nutt

TURN COAT by Jim Butcher
FROSTBITTEN by Kelley Armstrong
BONE CROSSED by Patricia Briggs
DEMON MISTRESS by Yasmine Galenorn
PREY by Rachel Vincent

OVER MY DEAD BODY by Michele Bardsley
DARK SLAYER by Christine Feehan
STAY THE NIGHT by Lynn Viehl
BAD TO THE BONE by Jeri Smith-Ready
RAPHAEL by D.B. Reynolds

THE LOST by JD Robb, Ruth Ryan Langan, Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney
MEAN STREETS by Jim Butcher, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Kat Richardson, Simon R. Green
STRANGE BREW by Charlaine Harris, Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance, P.N. Elrod, Rachel Caine
MEN OF THE OTHERWORLD by Kelley Armstrong
BELONG TO THE NIGHT by Cynthia Eden, Sherrill Quinn, Shelly Laurenston
MUST LOVE HELLHOUNDS by Iona Andrews, Charlaine Harris, Meljean Brook, Nalini Singh

Chloe Neill
Kimberly Frost
Tammy Kane
Gail Carriger
Cheryl Pierson

DARK SLAYER by Chrstine Feehan
THE GIFT by Deb Stover
DEAD AND GONE by Charlaine Harris
MORTAL SINS by Eileen Wilks
BLAZE OF MEMORY by Nalini Singh
DARKNESS CALLs by Marjorie M. Liu
PREY by Rachel Vincent

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guest Blogger - CS Challinor

Your Victim and Why They Had to Die

Well, someone has to die in a murder mystery. Since the blog is about “my” victim/s, I shall give a personalized overview of the topic as regards my bumped-off characters and the motivation behind their deaths, without giving too much away, otherwise the “who” and “why,” key elements in a mystery, will be revealed...and you will have less motivation to read my novels, right? I will address my comments to both writers and readers.
Everyone who writes fiction knows that before the first word is written, it behooves the storyteller to know the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the story. For the purposes of this topic, let us concern ourselves with the who (here, the victim, not the perpetrator) and the why (motivation). A word about victims: In many cases, “victim” isn’t an apt description for the deceased, who might be the villain.
My victims have run the gamut from young to old, weak to strong. Sometimes a sympathy angle serves to engage the reader. The first victim in my Rex Graves series (Christmas is Murder) is a decorated, one-armed veteran of WWII. Who would possibly want to murder a poor crippled old man (the reader is supposed to ask)? I’ve also poisoned, bludgeoned, fatally drugged, hanged, or otherwise disposed of a literary agent (ha!), nosy-parker, New York lawyer, frat boy, vicar, and bride. No one is safe.
A word now about motive. Having a character kill someone for a trivial reason is not likely to satisfy the reader. “Oh, she poisoned the chairwoman of the village committee so she could take over that coveted position.” OK, that might work, but you would have to give the murderer a petty (and twisted) personality and a history of snubs by committee members to make it half way believable. Not that ambition is not a motivating reason for eliminating the fictional person standing in the way, just that the stakes have to be commensurately high. In real life, the reward for committing a crime must be worth the risk of detection and conviction.
Although the “why” may not be the primary consideration when first plotting your novel, a really good motive can inform many important aspects of the book. What type of character would go to those lengths? How would they achieve their ends? Who is the unlucky victim? When would opportunity present itself? Etc.
To make a novel stand out, it helps if you can come up with at least one truly unique element, be that murder method or setting, and let’s face it, most of the material worth using has been utilized already. The best that may be left to do is try to improve on old models and to present a logical, credible and suspenseful story with whatever novelty you can incorporate into it to make it fresh and compelling. I try to instill drama into my novels. Drama is emotion-driven. Think Oedipus Rex, who blinds himself when he realizes he has committed incest with his mother. This is primal, epic, horrendous, the sort of thing that will shock and rivet the audience. You don’t need to go to the lengths of Greek tragedy to grip your reader, but emotion will help.
If the motive is big enough, you may get the reader to sympathize with the murderer. Usually, greed won’t do it. But what about avenging someone’s death? Possibly. What about killing someone before they can strike again? Perhaps it’s a case of self-defense or to save another life, and the cops have been delayed by external factors, such as a collapsed bridge or a snowstorm. Probably.
The main reasons for murder revolve around greed, jealousy, vengeance, or the need to preserve a secret (that once revealed would bring about the downfall of the killer). This last motivation is pretty cowardly, but people will go to any lengths to preserve their freedom or even their self-image. For example, a revered priest might be induced to break the fifth (Catholic) commandment if an ex-choir boy threatens to tell the whole congregation that Father John is a frocked pedophile who molested him in the confessional.
Motives I have used: revenge, greed, ambition, loyalty to another person, fear of being exposed for a previous crime, preservation of family. From my own standpoint, I prefer rational motivation than murders committed by completely deranged individuals. I am almost more interested in the why (people do things) than the what (happens).
If you write or read hard-boiled mystery, the victims may well cover a broader social spectrum, and the methods for murdering them will oftentimes be more gruesome or at least more graphic, while the motivation is typically less of a factor. The psychology behind murdering someone has more import in a cozy, which concentrates on the puzzle aspect inherent in such novels (think of a maze with a series of paths but only one exit). Harder boiled mysteries tend to be more concerned with the chase (linear) and plunging through obstacles (action) rather than thinking around them. Yet, whatever the category of murder mystery, someone must die, and the book will be less satisfying if the reason behind it is somewhat arbitrary and not fully explained.
Thanks to Pamela and Terri for inviting me to blog on this fascinating topic.
C.S. Challinor writes the Rex Graves (cozy) mystery series, published by Midnight Ink Books. The third in the series, Phi Beta Murder, came out at the beginning of March. Murder on the Moor is due for release March 2011. Find out more at

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Author Groupies


Have you ever heard of author groupies? Apparently from what I learned yesterday off of a group I belong to author groupies are out there. They go to the author booksigning, conventions and anything else that their favorite author does and while they may or may not buy books they go to meet the author. I take it they are a little more zealous than a fan really want special attention from their favorite authors. Enlighten me because I am confused on where fan ends and groupie begins? I thought booksignings were in part set up for meeting the author? Do authors really have groupies?
I mean I am a follower on a lot of author blogs, I go to booksignings to meet the author, people come to my signings to meet me? I have never been stalked by a fan (maybe my books aren't popular enough), and I'm pretty sure I've missed the main point of author groupie? I know stars and actors have groupies but never thought of mystery readers as groupies? Anyway I thought this could be a good topic for today's blog.
Enlighten me on author groupies and what this really means.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Guest Blogger - Richard Brawer

Victims die for many reasons.  Because they cheated on their wives or husbands; because they were the other woman; because they were a blackmailer; because they made someone angry; because they were about to be exposed for a crime; because they were about to expose someone else for a crime; and in Eileen Robinson’s case in Beyond Guilty because she killed.

Teenager Eileen Robinson lives in an ideal, middle class African-American family in Houston, Texas.  Her father dotes on her calling her his princess.  Her mother greets her after school with milk and cookies.  When her father is killed, an innocent victim in a drive by shooting, her mother is forced to go to work at night cleaning offices.  Eileen is relegated to babysitting her two younger sisters.  One night she runs out on them to hang with her friends.  Her sisters try to cook something and die in a fire.

Tormented, Eileen wants to kill herself, but she doesn’t have the courage. Wandering the streets, she is befriended by a drug dealer and moves in with him.  At twenty-one she is a single mother of two living alone.  Her drug dealer common law husband has been sent to prison.  When a state senator’s son, a former customer of her drug dealer, breaks into her house searching for drugs, Eileen kills him in self defense.  Falsely convicted of first degree murder, she is sentenced to death.

Death could not come soon enough for Eileen.  However, she must endure her guilt over her culpability in her sister’s death for another twelve years while she waits on death row for her sentence to be carried out.  Now strapped to a gurney with IVs in both arms, someone was going to do for her what she could not do to herself, and she was glad.  Her torment would be over. As the fluids pump into her arms she prays for forgiveness, not for killing the boy she was sure would have killed her and her children, but for causing the deaths of her sisters.

But Eileen’s life as a victim and as a killer does not end in the execution chamber.  Instead of dying from a lethal injection, she is put into a deep coma by the prison doctor and taken to an island prison to be a human lab rat in an experiment for a revolutionary drug.  Eileen is resolved to participate in the experiment knowing that if the drug doesn’t kill her, her captors will after they are done with her.

However, when she sees her children on a TV talk show arguing against the death penalty and saying they are going to exhume their mother’s body from the prison cemetery and bury her next to her sisters and her father, Eileen realizes that her captors cannot let that happen, and will try to kill her children before the order for exhumation can be obtained from the court.

The will to live for the first time since her sisters deaths outstrips her desire to die, and she escapes. You will have to read the book to find out how she evades her captives, how she feels when she kills them, and what she says over her sister’s graves to help her to abate at least some of her torment.

Go to to read the reviews, an excerpt, and find links to where you can buy both print and e-books of Beyond Guilty.

Pamela's Cross Stitch Finish

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Guest Blogger - Vicki Delaney

The victim in the latest Constable Molly Smith novel, Winter of Secrets, was not a nice person.

Did he have to die?
Did he deserve to die?

But he did, and as a direct result of his attitudes and behavior.
Winter of Secrets is set between Christmas Eve and New Years Day in the mountains in the British Columbia Interior. A group of wealthy, privileged University students from Ontario has come to the little town of Trafalgar on a two-week skiing vacation.
There’s Jason and Wendy Wyatt-Yarmouth, siblings. Jason is a med-student, handsome, charming, and thoroughly lazy. Wendy is a bitter, angry young woman whose resentment against the world, specifically her parents, expresses itself in shopping for luxury goods even she can’t afford. With them are Alan and Sophie. Alan is handsome enough to be an actor and Sophie, the Québécoise, is his new girlfriend. Alan and Sophie spend quite a bit of the vacation in their room. Ewan is there, Jason’s childhood friend, who never met a woman he didn’t want to screw, and Rob who brought his computer on holiday so as to be sure not to miss any action in the stock market. And Jeremy, who just seems to have attached himself to the group.
All of them are looking for a lot more than good skiing. Sex and drugs and making trouble are high on the list.
It is the ‘making trouble’ part that involves them initially with the Trafalgar City Police.
As Sergeant John Winters thinks, “this pack of drama kings and queens…”.
There are other people in town, of course. Locals who see rich vacationers moving in on their girlfriends, young people also in town for the skiing but who have to cobble together two or sometimes three jobs to make enough money to be able to stay, small-town girls who mistake a holiday romance for a life-time commitment.
Put them all together and you have a lot of possibility for conflict.
In the meantime, Molly Smith, now out of probation and a Constable Third Class wants to get as much time on the ski slopes as she can. Unfortunately the Wyatt-Yarmouths and their friends are also at the resort:
People lined the walls, some of them still gripping plates or cups. A long wooden table had been overturned, bowls of food and mugs of coffee spilled onto the floor. Two men were taking wild punches at each other, yelling and swearing all the while. Blood streamed from the nose of the larger man. In their inflexible ski boots they moved as if they were performing a ballet at the bottom of the Upper Kootenay River. The police officer trying to get through the crowd to reach them walked with no less difficulty.
There were a lot of people not unhappy at the death of the victim in Winter of Secrets. But did anyone actually kill him? That is the question Sergeant John Winters and Constable Molly Smith have to answer.
The first chapter of Winter of Secrets is posted on my web page, if you’d like a sneak peek:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Everything is Fodder

As readers and authors everything we do have learn is fodder for the imagination. So today my question is.....
What jobs have you had and would any of them make a good book series. I'll list mine and then I want to hear what you have to say on the topic nad hopefully you will list yours.
Mine are:
Cocktail Waitress
Worked in a Daycare
Dietary Aide
Clerk for a Hallmark Shop
Nurses Aide at a hospital and at a nursing home
Sold vacum cleaners door to door
Worked as receptionist and telemarketer for photography studio
Worked as a secretary for an elderly highrise apartment complex
Worked at our local library (started as a page, then ran the front desk, then did research and information specialist and finally did adult programing bringing authors to the library for booksignings, guest lectures, I ordered adult books for the library, filled in on interlibrary loan and summer reading programs, also helped with friends of the library)
Worked for pizza hut
worked in a used bookstore
worked in a wood craft shop
sold Avon
Sold Tupperware
book reviewer (at one time I actually got paid for some of these)
Interviewer for authors
Volunteered at Woman's Crisis Shelter
Briefly worked for birthright
Receptionist for beauty shop
Okay mine were in no particular order.......
Also hobbies included reading, ceramics, oil painting, researching history, baking, cross stitch, emboridery, crocheting (when in high school) drama writing poetry, and stamp collecting.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Academy Awards

I don't like to be negative about the Academy Awards but the 82 Annual Awards left me feeling a little empty. I grew up watching the awards and loved all the glitz and glamour. This year not so much it was like the whole atmosphere of the event was a little too low key. Most were on and off the stage in record time. The jokes fell to deaf ears and really Steve Martin, Alec Balwin and Ben Stiller tried they really did (I feel Ben almost had them in his clutches) but honestly even George Clooney didn't crack a smile for most of the evening.
I was thrilled for Sandra Bullock and loved her dress, I was happy a woman director got the award for "Best Director" but on the whole I was left wondering whatever happened to really GREAT movies? To be honest I would loved to have seen Meryl Streep get the award for Julia and Julie because that would have been something to hang on to I do NOT need a social commentary on war or proverty or football for the Oscar night. It left me craving movies by Katherine Hepburn or Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart, and so many others.
To be a little more up to date Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington and so many more.
Oprah gave a moving speech to the actress of Precious but I still would not care to see the movie. See I THOUGHT the Academy Awards Movies was to entertain the public. I want to see moving, fun thought provoking movies. I want to be entertained (I mean the price of a movie ticket alone should account for this much) I mean if you can turn on the news and see the exact same thing why go to the movies just watch the news. We all know the world is in trouble, we all know there is war and hunger and Cinderella Stories on every level. However when I go to the movies I want to escape into a fictional world whether it be love, mystery, sci-fi, horror relationships, holiday movies. Much like when I read a mystery or a romance I want to belong to that story.
There were parts of the show last night that dazzled me like the dancers and it was moving to remember the actors we lost in 2009. I just wish they would bring back MOVIES and that my friends is my take on the 82 Annual Awards.


Guest Blogger - Alan Bradley

“Why did your victim have to die?”
What a great question!
If we’d asked Plato, I suppose he’d have answered that it is the function of the victim to die: that he or she must pay the ultimate price by being the scapegoat upon the altar of verisimilitude. But without a worthwhile crime, it’s hardly worth spending the money to buy a novel, or taking the time to read it.
A victim may be innocent or guilty. While the innocent victim will most likely receive the reader’s sympathy, the death of a despicable victim might gain his applause. Jeff Lindsay has recently – and with deft ingenuity - flipped the classic pattern by having his psychopathic Dexter kill only victims who deserve so richly to die that, when they do, we break out the flags and send up skyrockets.
Nowadays, with many of our fictional detectives being flawed in one imaginative way or another, it seems that there’s more tension in putting them to work catching the killer of an innocent victim.
In my recent book, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – and I hope I’m not giving anything away here - the victim dies because he’s a scoundrel, and that’s often enough.
It’s not so much what the reader thinks of the victim as what the characters in the book think of him. I suppose one sure way of staying alive in a work of detective fiction is to be beloved by all.
But maybe not. To a killer, even a dearly beloved might well seem insufferable.
An interesting question is this (in the Platonian sense): do we create a character for the sole purpose of bumping him off? Is the poor creature doomed from the instant we place him upon the page?
I’d like to think not. As a writer, it’s more comfortable to believe that the characters you’ve loosed in the pages of a book are free to die or to stay alive according to their actions. Freedom of will – just like in real life.
But if your victim suddenly professes the cloth, for instance, what then? Kill him anyway, and let the chips fall where they may? Or should you let the book grow a new victim in the way a salamander grows a new tail?
Most readers would suppose that a writer takes great delight in doing away with a victim of the nasty sort, but they would be wrong. Perhaps because all of the characters in a book are aspects of the author’s own personality, I’ve found that it’s incredibly difficult to kill anyone – no matter how deserving.
I once received an unforgettable lesson in a primary school classroom. I was reading aloud from a children’s story I had written in which a bold boy calls upon God to save him from footpads. A bolt of lightning blazes down from the sky, glances from a tree, and kills a cow.
I was stopped in mid-reading by a little girl who jumped to her feet and said, ‘You just put that in to be funny.’
I admitted that I had. It was, in fact, the part of the story I had invented first.
‘God would never do a thing like that,’ she said, shaking a finger at me. ‘You can’t just put a creature into a story so that you can kill it. You have to be responsible for the animals you create.’
Although I’ve tried to heed her advice, I have to admit that it’s pretty tough to avoid murder in a work of mystery fiction.
So I suppose the bottom line is this: if we must kill, then let us do it swiftly and mercifully. Let us give our murderers such skill that our victims are not even aware that they have slipped the bonds of earth.
Murder should be gentle – it’s the detection that should be fiercely executed.

Alan Bradley is the author of The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, the second book featuring 11 year old Flavia de Luce, who made her first appearance in the Debut Dagger Award winning novel The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

Project finish 2-14-10

Heart by San-Man Originals.

Stitched by Terri

Friday, March 5, 2010

2009 Audies nominations (Audiobook awards)

I am gaining a fine appreciation for the importance of a good narrator with audiobooks!


Guest Blogger - Dorothy Howell

Secrets, Family, and Money -- A Deadly Combination

In our real lives we all know someone who did us wrong, a person who seemingly went out of their way to make our life miserable. If you could pick someone to run over with your car, it would be that person.

But would you do it?

What if you had a secret – a big secret? If you’d worked hard for years, built a solid life, always done the right thing, but one day – poof! – something went wrong and you were desperate to cover up your mistake.

How far would you go to protect your secret?

If a loved one was threatened, would you do anything to protect them?


I suppose none of us really know the answer to these questions until we’re faced with them. While we may have fantasized about getting even or getting back at someone who hurt us, few of us would take it to the extreme.

Yet ordinary people, overcome by extraordinary events, can do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. And those are the people I like to write about in my Haley Randolph murder mysteries.

I write cozy mysteries so there are no serial killers, no graphic murder scenes or gratuitous violence. For me, selecting the murder victim is the easy part. My victims and their murderers are average, everyday people. Someone amateur sleuth Haley, a 24 year old sales clerk in a big-time, quarter-life crisis, would run into.

Then it gets a little more complicated. I have to come up with a reason – a reason that will hold up for 300+ pages – why that person had to die. Maybe they learned something they shouldn’t have, or pushed someone just a little too far. Maybe they’d been hurt one too many times by that person. Perhaps they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I have to come up with a killer too, of course, someone who had a very good reason for murdering that nice, ordinary person. Besides motive, they need means and opportunity, as they say in all the TV crime dramas, so that goes into the mix as well.

And as if all of this weren’t enough to fit together, I like to throw in at least three other suspects, more if I can find good reason, a few red herrings, along with a trail of clues. I need an investigation that will cause Haley to call on her gorgeous private eye friend Jack Bishop, and Detective Shuman, LAPD’s hottest homicide detective.

Since I’m writing a series, I like to keep readers updated on Haley’s friends, so they have to make an appearance in every book. Then I throw in a romantic subplot – who doesn’t like a little romance with their murder? – and Haley’s crazed obsession with designer handbags.

All of this because somebody got murdered!

So what about you? If you could select a murder victim – for a book, of course, not real life – who would it be?


Thursday, March 4, 2010

March Winds

I'm a cross stitcher and I'm a reader. Do you ever have to decide what you are going to do on the days you have free time? Do I stitch or do I read? That is the question and for me I try to do both hobbies on those days but since I'm an author I often feel guilty when I am not spending ten hours a day at my desk.
Then along the way I learned something very important to me (probably not to you) but that is I need everything to make me a balanced more effective person. I need to stitch because it not only gives me something to do when husband watches mind numbing shows every weekend but it gives me a sense of satisfaction to complete a project. (This shows me my time isn't wasted) and I CAN waste time. I NEED to read I have needed to read since I learned to read. I love mysteries because I'm convinced reading mysteries keeps my mind busy (which is a good thing so I don't reach the dottering stage too soon) if ever.
I write because writing is like breathing now I didn't say heavy breather or that I breathe in all good things (this is what rewriting is for) and that some days aren't shallow breathing. Or for that matter like the March winds that some days (like today) I'm not a little windier than I should be (don't look windier up in the dictionary because it's probably not a word), again one needs balance. I will say that since I tried to balance my life I have less time to worry if my life is balanced.
I'm still trying to work on the perfect writing schedule for me.  Although why I am trying to work this out I will say that I am writing, blogging, reviewing, interviewing and keeping up with other writing obligations.
How about you is your life balanced? Are you ready to become unhinged and does the squeaky wheel get all the attention while other things slide? I might add here that unless you count family I really don't have much of a social life....well away from the computer.

Until next blog.....

Review of Wicked by Gregory Maguire

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (September 25, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 0061350966

The story of the Wicked Witch of the West from her POV.  Been looking forward to reading this for a long time.  Was not quite what I expected but I really enjoyed it.  The thing is, it is not a fast read (and I am not sure why not).

Elphaba was destined for a hard life from the time she was born.  Being green with scary teeth sure did not make it easy for her mother to love her.

Maguire gives a backstory to her, Glinda and her sister the Witch of the East.  Not to mention, the Wizard, with a twist I was not excepting.

One big surprise for me is that she really was NOT a sorceress.  It was more a psychological battle for her.  With ANIMAL rights, questions on the nature of good and evil, politics and manipulations. I would feel sorry for her at times, but it never lasted.  She was such and angry woman.

Dorothy and the murder are still the climax of the book but it is a very long journey to that part, leaving Dorothy almost incidental.

Will defintiely try more of Maguire's fables at some point.

But I have to honestly say, I can't envision a musical on this story so will HAVE to see it someday. LOL


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Guest Blogger - Ellen Crosby

I have a habit of getting some of my best writing ideas the moment I get up from my desk to take a break or catch up on something that needs doing around the house. More often than not it’s a repetitive chore like chopping vegetables or folding laundry, but I also write while driving in my car (only at red lights!) and there is a water-spattered notebook on the dressing table next to my makeup bag since my muse has a thing about showing up in the middle of a shower. Last weekend when “Snowmageddon” dumped more than two feet of snow on the D.C. metro area, I ended up with more than a sore back and tired arms from two days of shoveling: I roughed out much of the plot of my new book, the sixth in my Virginia wine country mystery series based on vineyard owner Lucie Montgomery.
            Between now and Halloween when I turn in a final manuscript to my editor at Scribner, my characters and their story will constantly live in my head. I’m a planner and an outliner—a couple of books ago I also began keep a rough daily diary devoted to nothing other than the work-in-progress. I buy cheap hardcover notebooks; lately I buy a 5.5 x 8.5” spiral notebook made by Piccadilly at my local Barnes & Noble after a bookseller pointed them out to me on the bargain shelf. Spiral because I’m left-handed and it’s easier to write; a different cover design each time so I can tell them apart. I date my entries and switch ink colors—hey, why not have fun with it, right?
            In those notebooks I try out character names, work on biographies, mind map, and strategize new ideas—stuff like that. I’ll write about a plot problem that has emerged in the latest draft and figure out possible ways to solve it. What I don’t do is keep reference information or notes from some of the experts who help me in the daily diary; those go in a loose leaf notebook where I can retrieve them and, once I turn in the book and finish all the rounds of copyediting they do at Scribner, file them for possible future use. The diaries are just in-the-moment scribbles and doodles; nothing I want or need permanently.
            My practice of writing about my writing, documenting my ideas and thought processes in an organized system, stems from my background as a journalist (primarily of feature stories)—where there is no such thing as taking too many notes, capturing too many sensory details, or recording too many direct quotes during an interview. And once I move from plotting and planning to writing, I borrow a trick from novelist Stewart O’Nan: the practice of physically keeping the last few pages I’ve written with me whenever I’m not at my computer. O’Nan wrote an essay in an excellent book called Telling True Stories: A Nonfiction Writers' Guide published by Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism (I recommend it for fiction writers, as well) explaining how the habit of carrying your manuscript on you–even a single piece of paper or an index card—meant that in those stolen minutes all of us have every day we can advance our story, capture a fleeing thought, and, most importantly, keep the momentum going on the current project. For me, it makes the next session at my computer that much more productive, minimizing start-up time. Don’t ask me why it works, but it does.
            As I write this, the local weather forecasters are calling for another ten to twenty inches of snow tomorrow. That means more shoveling . . . and plotting. But first, someone please pass the Motrin.                
            Ellen Crosby’s Virginia wine country books are: THE MERLOT MURDERS, THE CHARDONNAY CHARADE, THE BORDEAUX BETRAYAL, and THE RIESLING RETRIBUTION, published in hardcover by Scribner and paperback by Pocket Books. Look for THE VIOGNIER VENDETTA in August. More about Ellen at and on Facebook at Ellen Crosby Books.

Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Intimate Review by Simon Brett

Blotto and his friend go see  Light and Frothy;   a new popular show and his friend falls for the star of the show.  After his friend is k...