Friday, September 22, 2017
So anyway, here are five things I love about autumn. And if you'd care to share five things YOU love in the comment section below, I'll randomly choose someone to receive a print copy of the Japanese translation of Fair Play.
Now perhaps you don't speak Japanese.
That's okay. I don't speak Japanese either. You will still enjoy this book because ILLUSTRATIONS, PEOPLE.
Five Things to Love About Autumn.
1 - Idyllic temperatures. Fall in Southern California means cool, breezy nights and mild sunny days. The light is gorgeous. Luminous. The mornings smell of fresh-brewed coffee and a hint of something like damp earth and warm stone. It smells like the start of a new year, even though it's technically the wind-down of the old year. We use the fire pit in the backyard mostly in autumn. And those final, just-on-the-verge-of-too-chilly swims of the season are some of the very best.
2 - Sweaters. I love super-soft, warm and roomy sweaters. My cashmere coat sweater. The gray, green and purple pullover I bought on Orkney. The gray lambswool cardigan I wore the first night I went to dinner with the SO.
3 - The spooky vibe. I guess I partly mean Halloween, although I'm not really that much of a fan of Halloween. What I do like about it are the costumes and masks and spooky movies and spooky stories and spooky walks late at night when every skitter of leaves on pavement has you looking over your shoulder. There's something dark and mysterious about autumn, and that's what I love more than the candy...although I hasten to add there is nothing wrong with the candy.
4 - Baking. Serious baking starts in the fall. Pumpkin breads and pecan pies and bread right out of the oven, slathered in butter. All sorts of cookies and pastries and delicious flaky goodness. Yum.
5 - Going to bed early and sleeping late--and the snuggling that takes place in between. I sleep better in the autumn. I sleep better when I'm cold (not too cold of course--not so cold I wake up and start searching for socks). I read more in the autumn too, because there are few things cozier than climbing into a giant nest of pillows and blankets with a good book. Or even a bad book, if it's so bad it's funny.
Okay, what about you? What five things do you love about Autumn?
Friday, September 15, 2017
She's also on Facebook here.
Welcome, Meg! I'm so happy to have you here on the blog at long last. Is it true you're currently working on the fifteenth book in the Jamie Brodie series? What can you tell us about Published to Death? Any idea how long the series will run?
MP - I’m thrilled to be here! And yes, it’s true! Published to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #15, is nearly finished, and should be out in November. In short, there’s a conference of self-published authors being held on UCLA’s campus, and the keynote speaker (read: eventual victim) is one Mercedes Moran, who has made several million dollars selling 99 cent romance novels on Amazon etc., and who has made plenty of enemies (read: eventual suspects) in the self-publishing community because she is a terrible, horrible, no-good person. There’s also a cop who only speaks in clichés. As for the series, it will wrap up at #20, in 2020, as Jamie turns 40. I’ve known for a couple of years now how it’s going to end.
Hahahahaha. It's tempting to ask who Mercedes is based on. However...do you listen to music while you write?
MP - No. I’ve tried, but I start listening to the music and get distracted. But I do construct a soundtrack for each book, tying key scenes to songs that fit the situation. (I publish the soundtracks on my Facebook page.) In the process I’ve discovered a lot of great music that I wouldn’t have
Sountracks, playlists, I love them! I'll have to check yours out. Were you Team Nancy (Drew) or Team Hardy (Boys) growing up? Or none of the above? What set you off on your own life of crime?
MP -Team Nancy, until I grew up and got a look at Parker Stevenson.
Parker. Stevenson. Enough said.
MP - Mmm hmm. I have to blame my life of crime on my grandmother, though, who introduced me to Agatha Christie. (Not personally. Only in the literary sense.)
That's so interesting. My grandmother was also a huge mystery fan. Everything from Christie to The Destroyer novels. :-D And what a nice little segue to the topic of ghosts. Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? How about extraterrestrials? You work as an academic librarian on a college campus, correct? So surely you MUST have met extraterrestrials?
MP - Oh, yes. Community colleges are full of sketchy characters, and I don’t mean just the students. Some of them must be ETs - it’s the only logical explanation. I haven’t had a ghostly encounter, but I’m open to the idea of their existence. There’s a lot of weird stuff in the world, and not just on college campuses.
Or publishing communities. Ba-dum-bump. ;-D So, as previously observed, you're writing one of the longest running gay mystery series in gay mysterydom -- do you also prefer reading series, or do you enjoy standalones? Support your answer.
MP -After lengthy scientific research (i.e., counting the series vs. standalones on my shelves and Kindle), I can unequivocally state that, as a reader, I prefer series. I’d rather get to know characters over time, feel as if I know them, watch them deal with their personal lives along with the crimes.
What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?
Does anyone LIKE writing blurbs? And will she come and work for us? What are the elements that make a Meg Perry book unique? What do you consider your strengths as a writer?
MP - My initial reaction was that my strength is Jamie himself! But in a way that’s true. I think the thing I’ve done best is to create a cast of characters that remain interesting over time, that continue to grow and learn and adapt, and that people care about. My characters also behave and talk like real people - which isn’t always the case in mystery novels. One of the best things about only writing one series is not having to remember who has what color eyes, or who’s allergic to cats. I have the luxury of knowing Jamie and his family as well as I know my own. I don’t know how you do it, frankly, keeping all the different couples in your series separate! Yikes!
Copyeditors mostly! :-D What's next for you? What can readers look forward to?
MP - I’ve been writing Jamie Brodie short stories for a while now, to fill in things that needed to happen in the guys’ lives but wouldn’t work in a book for various reasons. Some have appeared on my blog, some have appeared at the end of books. In late August I’m going to publish them all, plus a bunch of new ones, in an anthology. It’ll be called Dirty Laundry: The Jamie Brodie Short Stories. Then Published to Death will be out in November, and next spring will come Cloistered to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #16. Informally known as “Clinton’s Book.”
Oh! I love the idea of collected series shorts. How ruthless are you as a writer? What makes you decide to kill a character off? Have you ever regretted killing a character off?
I only kill characters when it’s absolutely necessary. I kinda felt bad about killing Matt Bendel, Elliott Conklin’s boyfriend, back in Psyched to Death, because Matt was a sweet kid. But he was so wrong for Elliott, and I needed a victim, so bye-bye, Matt. (That sounds pretty ruthless, doesn’t it?)
Yes, says the woman who ruthlessly killed off Taylor MacAllister's temporary partner in Old Poison. ;-D If you could give aspiring mystery writers one tip on How to Build a Better Mystery, what would it be?
MP - Oh, there are so many… But here’s one I haven’t run across in any of the “how to write a mystery” books. Unless your mystery takes place in a small Southern town, don’t write stupid cops.
That's a good one for oh-so-many reasons!
MP - Big-city homicide detectives are the cream of the crop, and they’re anything but stupid. I’ve read mysteries where the detectives are bumbling idiots compared to the amateur sleuth/star of the show. No, no, no. Have respect for your detectives. If you don’t think you should, read Ghettoside by Jill Leovy or Homicide Special by Miles Corwin. (Actually, if you’re going to write about homicide detectives at all, you should read those two books.)
I can rec Homicide Special, for sure. And speaking of homicide, do you think poison is a woman's weapon? What's your weapon of choice?
MP - I haven’t poisoned anyone yet. YET. Let’s see...what have I used so far? Potassium injection, gun, hanging, a bust of Shakespeare, hot air balloon disaster, knife, strangulation, a Stone Age farming implement, knife, gun, strangulation, drowning, gun, gun, ice pick. Looks like guns win. (But my favorite of those is the Stone Age farming implement. Not a weapon you see every day.)
Er, no. And speaking of secret weapons, fashion magazines always ask this question: What is the one cosmetic or grooming tool you cannot live without? And do you have any idea why all these fashion models are always pretending the one tool they can't live without is their EYEBROW GROOMER?
MP - Are they pretending? Maybe they all had eyebrows like Leonid Brezhnev before. As for me, give me a good old pair of tweezers any day. Not only are they essential for dispatching the stray unwanted hair, but they also serve as precisely the tool required to remove paper jams from document shredders. Which is extremely important when one has to shred a bunch of documents tout de suite. Er… I mean IF. IF one ever would have to shred documents… Hahaha! Forget I said anything.
Ha. We never forget ANYTHING on this blog. So. IS revenge best served cold or do you prefer room temperature?
MP - NEVER argue with a Klingon. They tend to be testy. Cold it is. Cold, colder, coldest.
Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?
MP - Postapocalyptic mysteries. Is that even a genre?
Probably. You would not believe what kids these days are writing. ;-D Okay. Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!
I may be the only human in the Western world who has not read a word or watched a minute of anything Harry Potter.
Friday, September 8, 2017
It's been a weird year. I can't pretend otherwise. In fact, I'm flabbergasted to realize it's already September. Half of October goes to Montreal and Bouchercon and meeting the SO's famille. Not a lot of writing will happen until I get home. I'm currently in the midst of edits for Murder Takes the High Road (non-negotiable because this one is due at the publisher's) and cooking up a quickie short story to keep the cauldron boiling.
Anyway, everything is completely off track, but still mostly doable before the end of the year. And even if something runs into next year, it will get done. That was the point of dedicating a year to catching stuff up (oh, the irony -- I need a catch-up year for my catch-up year).
So here's what I'm still planning on for 2017:
"Halloween is Murder" (a short story)
Murder Takes the High Road (although it doesn't come out until next spring)
The Italian translation of The Monet Murders
The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks)
In Other Words...Murder (the fourth Holmes & Moriarity)
So This is Christmas audio book (narrated by Kale Williams)
If Only in My Dreams - print collection of all my Christmas novellas
There is also stuff coming from publishers -- French, Japanese and Italian translations -- but I don't control that. Right now I'm just focusing on what I control. In theory.
I'm also starting to plan out next year. Again, the focus is going to be on catching up some of these long-promised stories like Ill Met by Moonlight (the sequel to This Rough Magic) and Haunted Heart 2 (Spring). There should be a good bit of audio too. And there will be some surprises. No doubt for me as much as anyone. ;-)
Anyway, that's pretty much where we are as of now.
Friday, August 25, 2017
Now, it's true that Felice does not write mystery or crime, but look. Nobody's perfect. What she does write is charming and heartwarming male/male romance. Her books are hugely popular--and with good reason. But more to the point, Felice is one of the nicest, most generous -- and genuine -- people you'll meet in this biz.
So without further adieu...Felice Stevens.
Readers may not know that your day official day job title is Legal Eagle. I find it interesting that a lot of authors have a legal background. Why do you think that is? Do you think that some of the skills that make for a good lawyer make for a good writer?
Do you eat breakfast? Did you know it's the most important meal of the day? What's your favorite breakfast food?
I have to eat more oatmeal! So we've established that you rock thecontemporary male/male romance genre. Is there another genre or sub-genre you'd kinda, sorta like to try but haven't quite worked up the nerve yet?
Name three of your all-time favorite childhood books. Do you think those stories influenced your own writing? How so?
Note from Josh -- Well, it could!
FS Continued: As for single books, I loved the Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland (I had to learn that "Jabberwocky" poem by heart and recite it for 5th grade English) and the original Wizard of Oz. As a teenager I fell in love with the Mary Stewart romantic suspense books. My love of reading is all thanks to my father. He was a prolific reader.
What is with so many teachers insisting their pupils memorize "Jabberwocky"? It's not like is going to prove eventually useful in an argument. I know. I've tried to use it. As for the rest, the original Oz series is crazy imaginative--and probably not very PC, come to think of certain installments, but I remember being enthralled as a kid. And Mary Stewart! I love your taste in reading. Anywhoooo... Congratulations on being the first M/M author to be invited to take part in Amazon Kindle Worlds. Did you want to tell the at-home viewers a little bit about that?
:-D :-D :-D
Yeah, because anything else truly is unacceptable in one's life partner. AGREED.What do you love most about writing? What do you like least?
Well said, and I second all of that. This is a business that makes people crazy. But then you have to be inclined that way to want to write in the first place.
Anyway, moving on.Fashion magazines always ask this critical question: What is the one cosmetic or grooming tool you cannot live without? And do you have any idea why all these fashion models are always pretending the one tool they can't live without is their EYEBROW GROOMER?
What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?
Uh, yes. And plus if everyone made the right choice to start with, there would be no plot.
Do you consider yourself to be religious -- or even just spiritual? It's always a balance, but do you feel your work reflects your own feelings about faith and belief?
Ha!What are you working on now? What's out next?
ne or two. Ha!Favorite cocktail?
I KNEW THAT.You've managed to build a pretty respectable backlist in record time. What's your secret? Do you have one particular book you're most proud of or pleased with?
Friday, August 18, 2017
Blind Side is still going to happen, never fear. It's just being postponed a few more weeks. In the meantime, I'm enjoying reliving memories of my trip to Scotland a couple of years back. I'm using our tour itinerary, though changing names of hotels and so forth so as to not get sued by people with no sense of humor about murder occurring under their roof.
The unofficial blurb:
It's pretty much a classic cozy mystery with a generous dollop of romance and sex.
Here's an unedited excerpt:
A gust of windy rain hit the small window in the corner. It sounded—and felt—like someone had thrown ice tacks at the glass. I opened my suitcase and dug around for the least wrinkled shirt I could find, and ended up selecting a black soft-wash long sleeve crew T-shirt. I remembered enough from my country dance days to know a ceilidh was not a formal event.
“It’s for you,” John told me.
Friday, August 11, 2017
We rode the train down to Union Station and then walked from Union Station to a little oasis in the heart of Hell, known as Daily Dose Cafe where we had breakfast and waited for the tour group to arrive.
The tour was organized by a company known as Esotouric, and they describe themselves as Bus Adventures into the Secret Heart of Los Angeles. They're a bit informal, a little...on the zany side (I don't see that as a bad thing), and they definitely know their stuff. I'd like to have switched out the stop at Larry Edmunds Bookshop (the loose inspiration for Geiger's Bookstore in The Big Sleep) near Musso & Frank's for the Bradbury Building, but other than that I really enjoyed every single stop.
Probably the coolest moment for me was a completely personal (and a little weird) intersection of worlds. We were headed back from Hollywood and I suddenly started thinking that the streets looked familiar. Really familiar. I began looking for landmarks, and we suddenly passed through the intersection of a street called Bonnie Brae. Bonnie Brae is where my grandparents lived--it's where my mom lived when my dad started dating her. Later my aunt and uncle lived there and I was often there playing with my cousins. Which isn't all that remarkable, except that the last time I was there I was about four. Four years old. It actually gave me chills when I saw that street sign flash by.
A lot of Chandler's Los Angeles is gone, of course, but it's wonderful to see that many old, genuinely gorgeous buildings remain. Especially given that, unlike in Europe, the American thing is to raze old buildings and then build new ones on their graves. So much more money to be made that way! A lot of the remaining historic buildings are being purchased by foreign investors who typically don't have great reverence for the American past either, so if you write about old Los Angeles or you love architecture or you're curious about the way things use to be, I'd recommend getting yourself down there while there's still so much to see.
Friday, August 4, 2017
It's a long time since I've been interested in doing a monthly column, but a column on what's happening in the world of mystery writing and publishing -- specifically writing and publishing Male/Male and Gay Mystery -- seems to perfectly dovetail with my work on Writing Killer M/M Suspense and Mystery due out Winter/Spring 2018.
In the interests of finding any potentially-under-served* audience, a lot of male/male authors have turned to writing "mysteries." In what has become a brutally competitive market, writers are desperate to find any foothold (in fact, let's face it, that's how a lot of them came to be writing M/M in the first place). And that's okay. Since the first poet starved to death in his garret, authors have always scrabbled for a foothold in the publishing market. What is NOT okay is putting out any kind of schmaltzy, vaguely suspense-ish crap and calling it a Gay or M/M Mystery. Mystery readers are a bit more difficult -- let's call it discerning -- than some other audience segments. They really do expect a decent mystery to be served with their romance.
And with so many aspiring (perspiring?) authors relying almost solely on output, advertising and promo to get the results they need, the author who comes along and knows her genre and can actually write will have a huge advantage. I'm not exaggerating when I say that consistently writing well is soon going to be the new secret weapon in the author arsenal.
To that end--and because I've pretty much devoted my life to the mystery genre, in particular the gay mystery genre--I want to help both writers and readers get the best books possible. I want Male/Male Mystery to be where you find the best books and the best authors.
Anyway, the column is called KILLING IT - WRITING THE M/M MYSTERY, and it's running August through December. Stop by and leave a comment as to what you'd like to read about and discuss over the coming months!