Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Maury Chaykin dead at 61


Maury Chaykin Dead At 61:

I'm a Nero Wolfe Fan which means I am a fan of Rex Stout the author of the Nero Wolfe Mysteries. Years ago A&E aired the Nero Wolfe Mysteries and while I had a small crush on Timothy Hutton my bigger crush might have been on Maury Chaykin who played Nero Wolfe.
From the first episode I was hooked I not only wanted to live in the brownstone I wanted the Orichids the good food and secretly wanted to change Nero's opinion of women. He really disdained the crying ones.
Fritz was my ideal man a man who can cook and cook gourmet and Fritz knew how to keep his mouth shut yet made such wonderful breakfast and other meals that all you wanted to do was open your mouth. I often thought through the years that if Nero really wanted a confession he should have Fritz cook for killer because I was sure the food was good enough to get a confession.
Archie is smart witty, charming and most of all self assured. Nero completely more introverted I mean the man really hated to leave the brownstone and seldom did unless it was to flee for his life, maybe for an orchid and sometimes for a visit to his favorite chef, but he dressed every day in a very percise way the big man sitting behind the desk.
I feel there will never be another Nero Wolfe who can fill Maury Chaykin's shoes because when I see Nero I see Maury and much like David Suchet in the role of Poirot there can be only one.
I hope Maury rests in peace and I will be netflixing Nero Wolfe Mysteries and of course this means that I will be rereading Rex Stout Mysteries (as soon as I am caught up on book reviews) Sixty One is too young for such talent to pass away. I think in the back of my mind I hoped for a reunion movie or something just so I could see the old cast again. I know Timothy is in Leverage and Lily is on Covert Affairs and goes the cast but I always hoped for a reunion movie of one last case.
My wish won't be granted but I can hope that Netflix will at least ease the pain of losing "The Great Man" A few days ago someone from one of my reading groups asked "If you could be inside an author's head who passed away which author would it be?" I never answered that question but I will now...
"It would be Rex Stout" I hope in the afterlife I might be able to sit down with Rex and ask him what he thinks of Maury's performance as Nero Wolfe. I hope he agrees with me that no other actor could be in that role except Maury Chaykin. Both men were brilliant and dedicated to our our world of mystery and mayhem.

This is just another reminder to never take life for granted as death is a mystery to us all.

Hugs,
Pamela 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Are We Having Fun Yet?


Are We Having Fun Yet?

It's hot and sticky and my mom'a central air is coming through murky. Frank is out searching for boxes and I am packing for her move with the boxes we brought with with us. Mother is sitting on the sofa watching her favorite shows, drinking iced tea and telling me to be careful with her Angel Collection. I oblige and am very careful with her angel collection, I finish packing her angels go to the kitchen and start packing up her dishes (that she won't be using this week) mom comes in for a coffee refill and says....
"Now don't pack anything I'll use this week." She leaves the room and I pack the dishes etc.....
I go to the linen closet to pack up the linen mom comes in and says "What are you doing?" I remind her that she is moving in a week and I have to pack up her things she says "Oh that's right well don't pack anything I'll use." 
And so it goes all day long......but the thing is by the end of the day she it was a toss up on which one of us should needed looked after because yesterday morning I get up and realize that packed all of her teaspoons and had to send Frank out to buy her plastic spoons. So even though my mom's memory is gone she still remembered to remind me not to pack anything she would use and being the child I am I packed up her silverware. I guess my mother still knows best!

Happy Monday Everyone and be sure you know where your silverware is!!!! Hey at least I didn't pack all of her coffee mugs.

Hugs,
Pamela 

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Interview with Ann Littlewood


Ann,how and when you began your writing career?
When I was a zoo keeper, I wrote scientific papers based on research at the zoo and hand-rearing protocols, such as how we raised a baby hippo. When I moved into technical writing, I wrote software instructions and business processes. I started writing my first long fiction, Night Kill, while I was still in the corporate world. Fiction is so different from all the other writing I’ve done! What a challenge.
Please explain how your writing schedule works?
Short answer: it doesn’t. I write in bursts. Now I am focused on promoting Did Not Survive, so I’m writing guest blogs and letters to book reviewers and emails, not fiction. I miss having my head immersed in a story, but I can’t do it all at once.
This is an age old question but I am going to ask it anyway. How long does it take you to write your books?
The last one took nine months. The one before that—five years. The next one? Beats me!
Let's talk about your zoo mysteries and how you came to write the series?
Zoos have so much going on—people dynamics, animal events, the great American goofy public, and lots of actual or narrowly avoided accidents. I saw plenty of opportunity for a mystery series set in a zoo and, at the time, no one was doing it. (Betty Webb started her zoo series about the same time I started mine.) It’s been great to put my head back into that world. All the fun and none of the exhaustion or back injuries or wet feet!
How much research goes into your books?
I am paranoid about animal experts throwing up their hands at some stupid error I made. So I read books and get on the web and talk to the experts. I try to research every single thing. But zoos are so complex, with such a variety of animals, I’m sure I’ll blow it someday. Zoo professionals have been very generous with their time—they want the information to be accurate. The elephant experts I interviewed for Did Not Survive were fascinating. I love talking with biologists of all sorts. My goal is that the animals have every super-power that nature endowed them with and none that I invented. I’m going for authenticity.
What other books do you have in the works?
I have two rough plots to continue the Finley Zoo series. The next one might focus on orangutans in a thriller plot. Or it may be a combination of parrots and snakes in a more traditional mystery. I don’t know much about parrots or snakes, so that should be interesting to research. Finley Zoo will continue to improve, even as its staff members have their problems. My protagonist, Iris Oakley, will mature and change as she raises her child and gains more experience in the world, but she will remain wedded to her job. As to whether she ends up wedded to another person, we’ll have to see.
Now for a few fun questions. What is your favorite meal, dessert, book, movie place to vacation and your favorite way to spend your nonwriting time?
·         Meal: steak, baked potato (none of that foil!) with butter, asparagus, chocolate torte. This is a guilty meal. My real meals feature beans and chard.
·         Book: Can’t pin that down to just one!
·         Movie: Magnificent Seven or maybe Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—I love that scene with the Bactrian camels.
·         Vacation: I would love to see the African game parks. Belize is closer to striking distance, however.
·         Non-writing time: I spend most of it reading, of course!
What would you like to tell your readers?
I write zoo mysteries in hopes of drawing people into the natural world and encouraging them to care about it. I hope to motivate readers to protect the world from any more human damage. None of us can fix deforestation, ocean acidification, or climate change, but we can all do our part. So do it! Then do a little more. Any profit I earn from Did Not Survive will be donated to organizations like the ones listed at the back of the book.
Tell us about Ann, the author, the woman and the friend?
I’m a life-long environmentalist with a full life. I engage with an extended family, keep up with a boatload of friends, volunteer with Portland Audubon Society and with a local reading program, garden, teach my dog cute tricks, and read.
Do you have a writing pet peeve?
I do not read mysteries and thrillers about sadistic killers of women. Life is too short to have those images in my head.
Who is your publisher and what would you like us to know about them?
Poisoned Pen Press has won heaps of awards within the mystery community. They are beyond “small press”, more like middle-sized. They do a wonderful job.
What writing words of wisdom would you like to give aspiring writers who want to become fiction authors?
This business is a mix of talent, hard work, and pure luck. Keep learning, keep writing, and be sure to stick your neck out—submit your work, get to know other writers, and socialize. You need to be out in the open for the lucky chance to strike. If you hide, the random lightening won’t find you.
Do you believe in writer's block and if so how do you handle writer's block?
I suffer mightily to outline my books and endure the writer’s (plotter’s?) block then. Once I have an outline, I rarely have writer’s block. I don’t necessarily write what I’ve outlined, of course!
Do you have a website or blog ?
Yes, I do. http://zoomysteries.com and http://annlittlewood.blogspot.com
I know you have a book coming out August first and so this must be an exciting time for you. Do you have book signings scheduled?
See the events page on my website for the latest: http://zoomysteries.com/Events.html I’ll be in Washington, Oregon, and Arizona, as well as Bouchercon in San Francisco.
What is it like to be an author in 2010?
Promoting a second book is so much easier than promoting the first one! Authors have an awful load of promotion, kind of like homework or house cleaning in that it’s never totally done. I buzz around, like most authors with a book coming out, aiming for signing events, reviews, guest blogs, etc. This time I even have a trailer, a very cool one! It’s up on my website.
Can you break down for us how you plot, name your characters, how many times you rewrite your book, pacing, background and tell us about the worst and best writing day you ever had to date?
·         As I mentioned, I outline the plot and subplots in advance, although that always changes as I write. I try for a dramatic kick-off, a varied pace through the book, then rising tension to an exciting climax, and a quick wrap up. That’s the goal, anyway.
·         Naming characters is fun. Iris Oakley, my protagonists, is “Iris” because her mother is a gardener and it is her job to see. The last names of almost all my characters are from famous biologists. The first names are chosen partly so that they are all different enough to avoid confusion.
·         I am in a writers’ group and I edit (rewrite) based on the members’ responses to each chapter. I also read the whole manuscript out loud to myself at least twice. I’ve found this to be very helpful. I always run the whole thing by at least two zoo people.
·         It’s always a challenge to decide how much background to include, both about the zoo and about the characters. I struggle with it. The detail about animals and their care is fascinating to me, but it slows down the plot. Fortunately, in both Night Kill and Did Not Survive, the behavior of the animals provides important clues for Iris, so I get to leave that in.
·         As for the worst and best day writing, all days that I write are good days! I have good and bad days promoting, but not writing. Well, plotting can be gnarly. I have bad days plotting now and then.
Leave us with some words of wisdom from either you or one of your characters.
Next time you go to the zoo or are otherwise near animals, try erasing yourself from the scene. Just watch quietly and patiently. I can almost guarantee you will see and learn things that you would miss if you did the usual thing and tried to get their attention and interact with them. Watching quietly is very powerful.
In closing I hope you will share with us a small passage from your book.
Damrey turned toward Sam and draped her trunk over his shoulder. He rubbed the trunk, his hand moving firmly over the rough, wrinkled hide. It looked like old friends comforting one another in a tough time, trying to get each other through. Would she really turn on a person she knew, who’d been careful and gentle with her? It could happen, I knew it could happen. But this particular elephant? “See?” Sam said. “She hasn’t got a mean bone in her body. Wait till you get to know her.” … I wished he’d get out of her reach.

Ann, thank you for the interview.

Pamela James

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Facebook


Okay authors and writers use facebook all the time but how much is too much time spent on facebook and other reading lists? Do you ever use facebook as research? Or do you ever put a poll on facebook when you're having a question about a book, or about writing a book?
Tell us all the ways YOU use facebook and how it helps or hinders you?
Do you have a facebook story to relate to us or tell us about and if you do please tell us.
What do you like the best about facebook?
Also: I know a lot of us are Goodreads fans and readers so tell us about Goodreads and let's get the word out about how great it is and why we like it so much. I know I like to read the reviews and it's insightful to read what other think of a book.
Now going back to facebook for just a moment I want to say if you want me to friend you on facebook please do a profile and tell me who you are?
I would like to add the same goes for my yahoo messenger and maybe especially messenger because I always check the profile page and if you haven't listed your profile and I don't know you I will accept your messenger friend request.
I know for safety reasons and spam reasons I have to be very careful these days.

Okay I know today's blog isn't thrilling but maybe if everyone responds it will be enlightening...

Pamela

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

An Interview with Dorothy Howell


Dorothy, tell us about your latest book in the Haley Randolph Mystery Series.

SHOULDER BAGS AND SHOOTINGS is the third book in the series.  It follows last year’s PURSES AND POISON, and HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE which launched the series. 

The main character is Haley Randolph who’s 24 years old and in the middle of a big-time quarter-life crisis.  She’s a college student who hates college, and a part-time sales clerk who doesn’t want to wait on customers.

Haley definitely has her own take on things, and can’t seem to find her place in life.   What she does find are dead bodies in the department store where she works. 

How long have you been writing mysteries?
I started out writing historical romance.  I’ve sold 24, most under the pen name Judith Stacy, and have a novella coming out next year from Harlequin Historicals.

After writing so many romances I decided I’d like to try something different.  Mystery seemed like it would be fun to write because it was a genre I always enjoyed reading. 

HANDBAGS AND HOMICIDE, my first mystery, was released in hardcover from Kensington in 2008.  A new book in the series comes out every July, with a paperback follow up.  I’m totally thrilled to have signed another 3-book deal to extend the series to six books. 


Tell us about your writing schedule?
When I quit my “real” job and started writing full time, I wrote, wrote, wrote like a crazy lady.  I was so thrilled to have the opportunity!  But I soon learned that what I’d thought was being focused and goal oriented was actually being compulsive and obsessive.  So for my own sanity – and the safety of my loved ones – I had to adopt a limited writing schedule.

Now I write about four or five hours per day, five days a week, weekends and holidays off. 


If you were going to mentor another writer who wants to write mysteries what would you tell them are the three most important rules?
I’d advise a new mystery writer to pick a theme for the series that you love – because you’re going to write about it for a very long time.  Handbags are the theme for my series and I absolutely love them.  I just finished writing book #4 and I’m no where near tired of purses.

Next I’d recommend that a new writer not nail down every aspect of the main character’s life in the first book.  Give yourself some wiggle room for future books.  A long running series can go in many different directions.  Leave your options open to develop a story about a family member, a former lover, an old job. 

Don’t forget – it’s all about character.  Regardless of what genre you’re writing, it takes a jump-off-the-page character to hook readers.  This is especially true when writing a mystery series.  Readers will enjoy a complex and engaging whodunit, but they’ll keep coming back to find out what’s up with your characters.



How do you plot your books and keep track of your series characters from book to book?

When I’m developing a new idea for a Haley Randolph book, I try to think of something that will make Haley’s life harder.  For example, in SHOULDER BAGS AND SHOOTINGS, Haley finds a dead body in the trunk of a car.  But it isn’t just any car – it’s a Mercedes and she’s borrowed it from her boyfriend’s grandmother.  

I keep a list of all the characters I use in the series, their physical description, which book they appeared in, and anything unusual or quirky about them.  I’ve found that as I’ve gotten deeper into the series and my character list has grown, it’s important to write everything down.  Wish I could remember everything, but I just can’t. 

Dorothy, tell us a little about yourself...your favorite meal, dessert, place to vacation, books and movies?

The beach is my all time favorite spot to vacation.  I can relax there.  Seeing the power of the ocean makes my problems seem small.

Anyone who’s read my mysteries surely knows Haley gets her love of chocolate from me. 

I like romantic comedy and action adventure movies.  If I’m flipping channels and Romancing the Stone, Terminator or Soapdish are on, I’ll always sit and watch them – again. 

I don’t get to read as much as I’d like, due to my writing schedule.  Some of my favorite suspense/thriller authors are Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, and Harlan Coben.  I love a good cozy mystery too, and enjoy books by Hannah Dennison, Diana Killian, R.T. Jordan and Laura Levine among others. 

Do you collect handbags and do you have some favorite ones that you wouldn't ever part with?

I don’t smoke, drink or do drugs – handbags are my passion, although smoking, drinking or doing drugs would probably be cheaper!

I fell in love with designer handbags several years ago when my daughter talked me into buying my first Coach bag.  Gorgeous!  I was hooked. 

I buy as many purses as my conscience will allow, usually a new one for spring and for fall.  If I see something in between that I absolutely cannot live without, I’ll get it.  It’s hard to hold back!

For you what is the best and worst part of writing your book?

For me, there’s no “worst” part about writing.  I’ve been blessed with great readers, wonderful agents and editors, publishing houses that give my books fabulous titles and covers.  It’s a dream come true – which, I guess, makes that the “best” part of writing.

Is there something you would like to say to your readers?

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Thank you for giving my books a try, for recommending them to family and friends, for posting reviews, entering my contests, e-mailing me, joining my Facebook fan page, turning out for signings, and for sharing your thoughts, lives, difficulties, hardships and joys with me. 

As always, you’re cordially invited to visit my Dorothy Howell Novels fan page on Facebook, and my Web site at www.DorothyHowellNovels.com.









Monday, July 19, 2010

Make Mine Double Trouble


MAKE MINE DOUBLE TROUBLE:
Pamela James

How often do you buy a good mystery for yourself and then think your friend must have a copy to read? I do this often especially at gift buying time for birthdays. The problem is I put the book up and forget who I purchased the book for and then I just think I have an extra copy.
Is book gift buying challenging for you when you try to buy a book for others? I know it can be for me because a couple of my closest friends collect book and like me they are not exactly organized on their book buying. It helps when they have a wish list listed somewhere.
Do you have a wishlist so your friends and family know what books you would like to have? Do you keep your wishlist updated?
Tell us about some of your favorite authors whose books you HAVE TO HAVE the minute they are released for eithe pre order or on the book shelves?
Some of mine are Carolyn Hart, Sarah Strothmeyer, Mary Daheim, Nancy Atherton, Lorraine Bartlett, JB Stanley, Lisa Scottoline, Jeff Cohen, Brenda Joyce, Laura Levine and Selma Eichler.
I have to admit to loving anything by Rex Stout but of course his death sorta book a damper on new books. LOL
I also loved Patricia Sprinkle's Books but she quit writing the series that I dearly loved.
How many of your favorite author write more than one series or have quit writing your favorite series?

Until next week here's wishing you great book buys and even greater library trips!

Hugs,
Pam

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Guest Blogger - Keri Clark


ZOMBIES HAVE FEELINGS TOO.

From Frankenstein's monster to fairies, from Edward Cullen to Jacob Black, supernatural creatures have long fascinated readers--and stirred the imaginations of writers. What is it about these characters that appeal to us?

I think part of the attraction is that they tap into some very real human emotions--such as the desire to be understood and accepted, and the need to belong. And here's where the juicy conflict comes in: The fanged, winged, furry and undead are often forced to hide their true nature from the human world, which keeps them perpetual outsiders.

I wanted to explore this theme in my latest mystery short story, "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead." The protagonist, Caitlin McCarty, is a zombie. But she's not one of those stumbling, brain-eating rogue zombies. Instead, she injects herself with formaldehyde on a daily basis, which allows her to pass as human. She has a decent job, a nice condo, and even a murder mystery to solve. Unfortunately, like Frankenstein's poor monster, Caitlin is doomed to remain on the outside looking in.

In what ways do paranormal characters appeal to you as a reader? As a writer?

Supernaturally yours,
Keri
("I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" is available from Sniplits: http://tiny.cc/zombie-story)




     

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another Monday


Another Monday:

Mondays are usually hectic for me and this one is no exception. We are letting a friend stay with us until she gets back on her feet which means moving furniture, cleaning and basically it's taking a large block of time esepcailly considering we go back to Kansas City this weekend. To add to all of this I am writing two books by November, have to move my mom the end of the month and have a family barbeque. We also have my neice's wedding August 7th and family will be in for the wedding. I also have reviews due and need to update the interviews (anyone want an interview)? I might add that I really need to be stitching (this is to keep my sanity) but most of all I will try to keep blogs coming as as this blog is my lifeline and so are the other blogs that I continue to read.
Here's hoping to nobody discontinuing my brand or flavors of coffee over the next few month this could have a domino effect on my sanity!
I really thought the last half of the summer would be mild and non drama in nature.  I still hope to keep the drama down oh but if anyone knows any children's books editors please let me know as my niece is looking for a place to send her children's book. Also she has written a teen book so that would be a plus for her too and I said I'd ask around. The thing is she doesn't have illuistrations to go with the children's book. Nobody we know can sketch or draw well enough to do them.
On a good note my office is done so now it's back to writing. I love the way it turned out and I pretty much have a place for everything. I did find myself wishing I was back in New Orleans yesterday. Such a fun and laid back atmosphere. Right now the most I can hope for us that calagon takes me away with a good book in my hand.
Has your summer turned out slightly different than what you thought it would become and if so tell us about it?
At least I get to go to CC & Company this Saturday and pick up my cross stitch pattern. It's a Halloween one called Sociable Scarecrow, it was hanging in CC & Companies shop and I fell in love with it.
Until later....
The Kansas Tornado!
Pam

Friday, July 9, 2010

An Interview with Cross Stitch Designer - Cathryn from Blueladie Designs


Today we would like to welcome Cathryn of Blueladie Designs to our blog!  Please check out her site and see her wonderful designs!

 http://sites.google.com/site/blueladie/ 


When did you first learn to cross stitch? Tell us what specialty stitches you know how to do and describe the different specialty stitches.

I don’t know very many specialty stitches and tend to choose my projects for their simplicity.  However, I do not avoid French knots.  I use them frequently.


What is your favorite fabric to use and where do you usually buy your fabric?

My favorite fabric is evenweave, especially Jobelan or Lugana.  I also use some aida and linen.  I usually try to find deals on fabric from some of the groups I belong to, otherwise having no Local Needlework Shop (LHN) I use 123 Stitch my favorite Online Needlework Shop (ONS).

What types of floss are your favorite types and tell us what are your favorite patterns and themes that you like to stitch?

My absolute favorite is DMS, otherwise I like overdyeds like Six Strand Sweets (hard to find now) and Crescent Colors.

Do you do charity stitching and if so which causes do you stitch for and why are they dear to your heart?

No, I don’t do charity stitching.  I find it hard to stitch when I have a pressure of a deadline.  Must be a mental block.

Do you rotate projects or stay with one project until completion?

I rotate 3 or 4 or more projects to keep myself from getting bored and/or frustrated.  When I find myself lagging in progress on one project, I switch to another or start a new one.

What is your favorite project or picture that you have stitched?

My favorite project is “Merry Christmas” by Jeremiah Junction.  I loved this piece because it was like stitching so very many miniature pieces and you could watch them get done frequently.  Also this was the first piece I noticed that you could actually stitch a plaid.

A close second is Prairie Schooler’s Christmas Village.  I really LOVE that piece.  Watching the buildings and the sleighs come alive was so intriguing.  PS’s use of unusual colors is surprising and some of the buildings, especially the church, had a very rich look.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Some of my favorite designers are (in no special order) SanMan Originals, Little House Needleworks, Prairie Schooler, Just Nan, Drawn Thread, Blue Ribbon Designs.

Do you model stitch and if so can you tell us who?

No, I have never model stitched (except for myself when I first started designing and I found that tedious because of the ‘deadlines’).

Why do you love to cross stitch and for you what are the rewards of cross stitch?

I love cross stitching because it is a very soothing activity.  Also firmly believe in “idle hands are a devil’s workshop”.  My aunt used to quote that to me.  I find the only way I can watch TV is if I am stitching.  Otherwise, I become restless and get up and down a lot.  I guess I have to be ‘doing’ something.

Now for the really fun questions: What is your favorite dessert, meal, movie, book, song, place to visit?

My favorite dessert is cheesecake. 
My favorite meal is any kind of seafood. 
My favorite movie is Pretty Woman (the ultimate fairy tale). 
My favorite book is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  I can’t even count how many times I have read it.  Although a close second favorite is Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher.  I was so sorry when that book ended.  I also love, love, love “The Cat Who…” mysteries. 
I love country music and my favorite changes frequently.  Right now it is “Lover, Lover” by Jerrod Niemann.  It’s fairly new.  It’s not the lyrics on this one, but the rhythm and the voice harmony that attracts me. 
I love to visit home.  For me that is Michigan where I was born and raised (I now reside in Kentucky).  I love The Great Lakes.  I miss being around the water a lot.

Do you go to trunk shows, stitching retreats (if so which ones), stitch ins or gather at your local stitch shop to cross stitch with other stitchers on a regular basis?

I wish!!!  It’s been a dream of mine to host one (stitch in and/or retreat), but now I doubt that it will be possible because of disabilities and not being capable of doing as much as I used to. 

When you are not stitching what are your favorite ways to spend your time?

I love to work on my computer.  I design cross stitch and work frequently on that.  When I’m not designing, I love catching up with the groups I belong to and blogs I follow.

What keeps you motivated to cross stitch project after project?

I’d be lost without cross stitching.  It’s as much a part of me as the color of my eyes and hair.  I cross stitch.  Sometimes I have a slow period.  If I do, I start a new project to excite me and add it to my rotation. 

In closing what has been your most challenging project?

My most challenging project one which I am still working on is “Common Ground” by Just Nan.  There are frequent color changes and it’s a complicated chart to follow.  Perhaps it is me and not the chart that’s the problem (smiling here).


Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Interview with Pamela James

To celebrate Pamela's birthday month, we are going to get to know her a little better...

1. You have had a bumpy period for a bit writing-wise. Anything you have learned from it? And what are you working on now? That people can suck your writing time dry and that you have to stick to a writing schedule. That writer’s block can be circumstance oriented and that a bad book published is worse than not publishing a book.
2. Who are some of your favorite writers these days? Christopher Fowler is by far my favorite male author he writes with such fluid and vivid words that it’s a gift to read any of his books. Other favorite writers are Julie Hyzy (she is such a great author), Lorna Barrett aka Lorraine Bartlett (she just doesn’t write a bad book) Laura Levine (I read her series when I am stressed she just makes me laugh outloud) Carolyn Hart (I started reading the american cozy with her and I’ll read her until one of us dies)

3. Travel Dreams? I want to go to Italy and since I’m Italian it fits. In the USA Washington DC and New York.

Favorites you have been? Hands down it’s New Orleans.Fantasy of where you would like to go? My fanstasy vacation is Cape Cod I think I could write a really good cozy set there.

4. Do you ever experiment with your reading tastes and try new things? Always and lately I like humorous mysteries with a sexy twist but I also love to read mysteries set in the 1940’s.
5. What do you think people would be most surprised if they knew you read and loved it? Probably that sometimes I read trashy novels and love them. I also read true crime and am an avid reader of any Jack The Ripper book so from Bodice ripper to Jack the Ripper that’s me.
6. We know you love to stitch - what other hobbies do you have or want to learn? I do tombstone etchings and I am an oil painter. I would love to quilt my I think I will have to take a class.
7. Favorite Piece you have ever stitched? My antique Santa Sampler comes to mind and also probably my current WIP which is a Cat Noir Picture.
8. Favorite movies? I love Murder On The Orient Express, Funny Farm, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, any Midsumer Murder Movie, Evil Under The Sun, The Apartment, Fortune Cookie, Working Girl, You’ve Got Mail , Shining Through and Hocus Pocus.

9. What book(s) would you like to see on film or tv? Let’s see Bubble In Trouble by Sarah Strothmeyer, Killer Insight by Victoria Laurie, Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy, The Christie Caper by Carolyn Hart, Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy, The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler.
10. Worst book you ever read? I’ve read plenty of them...
11. Favorite music?Jazz rock-n-roll and music from the 70’s.
12. Favorite foods? Chicken (made any way), Chinese Food, Peach cobbler, coconut cream pie, pumpkin bread, sugar cookies.
13. Favorite family memory?The Christmas the family puppy opened most of the presents then greeted us with a sticky bow on his nose and my new watch between his teeth.
14. Favorite friend memory? When Glenda and attended an RWA Convention in Kansas City. I’ll say no more.
15. Best thing you ever learned from your writing mentor? That you are never too old to be published. Monette Cummings was my mentor.
16. What you would like to share with others from your writing experiences? Read and then read some more, do your research and above all never lose faith in your writing, keep going no matter what but most of all never be afraid to express yourself.
17. What is the worst movie you have ever seen? I will never tell! LOL
18. Favorite scents? Pumpkin, Vanilla, peach cobbler, lilac and orange scent.
19. Fantasy pair of shoes? Red Velvet heels
20. Fantasy writing partner? Lorraine Bartlett, Katherine Hall Page, Sue Grafton, Kate Kingsbury and Mary Daheim.

Review: Shoes to DIe For


TITLE: SHOES TO DIE FOR
Author: LAURA LEVINE (A Jaine Austen Mystery)
Genre: Mystery Series
ISBN: 0-7582-0782-4
Paperback
Pages: 256
Jaine doesn't want to go shopping but her neighbor Lance thinks she needs a new look. He is trying to get her to lose the the elastic waistband look so when she goes shopping at Passions Boutique and happens to hear all the staff gossip. It seems that Frenchie the coworker to Becky is not a popular person. If Frenchie is not sleeping with someone's husband or boyfriend, then she is making fun of customers and thinks she is God's gift to the designer world.
While at the boutique Jaine is offered a job writing the magazine ads for the store. Jaine may not think much of most of the staff but it sure beats writing ads for 'Toliet Masters' her claim to fame she can seem to flush.
Lance is proud of Jaine and she is feeling pretty good about herself minus the fact that her daddy thinks he is an actor and her mother gets a part in the same play to which her father did not get the lead.
Other than her parents she is feeling pretty snazzy in about landing this assignment but when she arrives at Passions to pitch her ideas to the store's owner she finds Frenchie has been stabbed in the neck with one of her own stilettos. When sweet peaches and cream Becky is arrested and becomes the main murder suspect Jaine and asks Jaine to find Frenchie's killer then Jaine pulls on her waistbands and muddles her way through suspects. At the top of the suspect list is Becky's boyfriend, Frenchie's husband and the real owner of Passions to whom Frenchie was blackmailing.
Jaine may wear all the fashion no no's but she knows a how to fit the shoe to the criminal. 
SHOES TO DIE FOR is perfect for anyone who loves to shop for and wear shoes. if you have parent who drive you crazy you have to read this book for the emails alone and if that isn't enough Prosac the cat has a few moments that will make you laugh outloud and you will no be able to guess whodunnit this time. 
There is even an author or two to round out the cast. In this book there is never a dull moment for Jaine and don't get me started about how her best friend Kandi signs them up for speed dating and Jaine gets stuck with garbage collector on the trash boat trip from hell and how he says he'll call her (maybe), after he dates all of the rest of the women on his list. Sure she will be waiting by the phone like Prozac will not be circling her bucket of chicken.
Okay I admit I laughed a lot with the emails from her parents to her and I laughed at the bad hairdo and the dates were so bad that I started to imagine strangling Kandi until I read her Mr. Wrong story.
All in all this book was one of the funniest books in the series. I have to hand it to Laura Levine she knows how to entertain her readers.
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Pamela James

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review - U is for Undertow

TITLE: U IS FOR UNDERTOW
Author: SUE GRAFTON
Hardcover
Detective Mystery Series
ISBN: 978-0-399-15597-0
In April 1988 Kinsey Millhone is doing paperwork in her office when a young man named Michael Sutton walks into her office with an unforgettable story. Two decades earlier he believes he saw the kidnappers of a four year old little girl whose case is opened but is a cold case. Michael was just a boy and thinks that he saw them bury the body he even talked with them.
However Michael has only had a flirting moment with the truth as his past makes him not the best witness. Kinsey feels sorry for him and agrees to take the case for one day then she will decide. To make a long story short he is the boy who cried wolf and she is curious about the case. It takes work and research but she goes to the location of where the body is supposed to be buried and she has help from the police and Michael but what they dig up is the body of a dog and the dog's nametag.
Here is where we go from 1960 to 1988 and here is where Kinsey keep wondering about the dog and why it is buried in this spot. She can't let go of it and she retraces the steps to the past with trepidation. Has the story unfolds we start to see that the most perfect families are hiding something and we start to see that Kinsey's own past is not without it's moments of surprise.
It goes to show that even a private detective such as Kinsey who pretty much thinks she has seen and heard it all can still be surprised. We have the privilege of chapters being dedicated to present families, past families and as each family reveals a little more about themselves each of their stories lay the groundwork for what happened to a four year old little girl. The kicker is this is not the first child to have been kidnapped a week before her kidnapping another little girl was kidnapped but returned for a ransom. Was the first child a trial run for the second kidnapping or was the second child a victim of circumstance?
I could not tear myself away from this story every character is multi-layered, each person interviewed sheds a new perspective, we even see how killers can be extraordinary and what happens when one person can start a chain reaction in other people's lives that can never be reversed. We can see the results of bad karma and the real meaning of freedom in the 60's what parents go through when their children refuse to take responsibility for their own lives and actions. When friends betray each other, how heart are broken, what divorce really does to a child and how awful and cruel adults can be to each other. More to the point in this book we see real people whose lives are shattered and will never be the same. We know by the end of this story that everything means something and nobody is left unscathed by what our fellow man does it is a powerful story and it is a tragically beautiful story.
This mystery is an awakening of the soul and a cry for justice. Before to you think this book might have topics you don't like read let me reassure you that there is no child rape involved or anything of that nature no it's about justice and the effects our lives can have on others. Other people we do not know have never met the roads not taken the choices that were made of circumstance and the repercussions one day can have for many decades.
If you think you do not belong in this world or don't count then read this book it will change your mind. This is one of Kinsey's most powerful cases and it's one that will be an eye opener for many a person who thinks they are a misfit in either family or society.
**********
Pamela

Guest Blogger - Alice Duncan

It’s June, by gum! Good grief, the year’s half over. Seems like the older one gets, the faster time flies. I’ll be in touch with ...