Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. For me, it kicks off the entire holiday season. Halfway through the meal, the background music changes to Christmas music, and when our guests leave tonight the Christmas lights will be shining.

I know that some people have mixed feelings about this particular holiday, but when you boil it down to its essence what you have is...gravy! No, just kidding. When you boil it down, what you have is people helping other people, even when it goes against their own self-interest. And people honestly grateful for that help. Celebrating that help.

We could use a little -- heck, a LOT -- more of both in our world.

So Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you have many things to be grateful for in your life. And that many more good things will come your way in the future.



Friday, November 3, 2017

Reality Check Please

Coming in December!
As regular viewers know, I had a very different plan for this year.

Following last year's skimpy (and largely experimental) spate of late autumn releases, I had intended to come back with a slew of long-promised sequels or installments, such as Blind Side, next book in the Dangerous Ground series and The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out (sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks).

But real life has a way of elbowing its way into the best laid plans. Starting with the SO's stroke (God, has it really been a year?!) things just didn't roll out as anticipated for 2017. I feel like I've gone on enough about this stuff, so I won't rehash, but in the words of the philosopher known as Siri... Recalculating.

I've got two months left and I need to be realistic. I HATE THAT. But still.

Right now I'm working on the rewrite of Murder Takes the High Road, a standalone cozy mystery novel for Carina Press due out next April-ish. For reasons that have zero to do with the book, it's taking me a hella long time to finish this story. This project has to take precedence over anything else.

Once it's done, I'll begin The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out. Why this book and not the much-delayed Blind Side? Because, simply, I ran expensive print ads on it in mainstream mystery mags.

That pushes Blind Side back again--this time all the way back to next spring because I'd rather be slightly late on the two remaining projects than hugely late on everything for the next four months, which is what happens if I try to force Blind Side out.

It's complicated, my friends.

Advertising, narrators, editors, translators are lined up for these projects, and missing deadlines, switching things up, have consequences for others as well as myself.
Coming in April 2018

That said, here's what I promised in September:

"Halloween is Murder" (a short story)
Murder Takes the High Road (although it doesn't come out until next spring)
Blind Side (now pushed back to May 31st)
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

So far the only thing being seriously shoved back is Blind Side. The rest of that happened, is still on track, or is only delayed by a few months.

I feel confident enough, that I'm going to go ahead and list TGHaEC-O and IOM on Smashwords (which includes Kobo, B&N and iBooks) for pre-orders. No Amazon pre-orders because Amazon took my pre-order privileges away for a year due to missing the date on The Monet Murders. *snort* Not sure how punishing readers by not allowing them to take part in pre-order pricing is teaching me a lesson, but whatever, Zon.

Still on track for next year are The Magician Murders (Book III in the Art of Murder series) and Haunted Heart: Spring. But (along with Blind Side) that might be it for next year. The SO and I have our non-fiction project to work on, and that's going to take several months, so...next year might not see a lot of new work from me.

There. I've said it.

I feel like it would be better to under-promise and over-deliver rather than give in to my normal optimism. Then maybe we'll all be happily surprised. Or not. But at least I won't be creating unnecessary stress for myself by setting up a terrifying gauntlet of deadlines.

I know it's risky in these days of multiple monthly releases, but oh well. I didn't become a writer so I could make a quick and easy buck. I want to tell stories that entertain, engage and, yeah, maybe to some small extent educate. I want--need--to enjoy writing them as much as I want readers to enjoy reading them. That's been my goal from the beginning--and I don't see that changing.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Release: HALLOWEEN IS MURDER



What a weird year this has been--and my release schedule (or lack therein) has been one of the weirdest things about it.

But anyway, I did manage to squeeze out a little bit of tongue-in-cheek Halloween goofiness just before the cockcrow.

Halloween is Murder. It's a short story about vampires, private eyes and Irish myths and legends in 1950s Los Angeles. I think it's fun. Or I think it's fun. Your italics may vary.

Where to Buy it:

Amazon
Smashwords
Kobo
Barnes and Noble

I don't think it's on iBooks yet, but you could always check!

The Blurb:

When his enigmatic partner takes off on an annual fishing trip, City of Angeles gumshoe Barry Fitzgerald is left to handle an All Hallows’ Eve kidnapping case on his own.
The victim? A murdered millionaire’s penny-pinching son and heir. The culprit? That’s where it gets tricky. According to the missing man’s sister, vampires are behind Patrick O’Flaherty’s disappearance.

Barry doesn’t believe in ghosts, goblins or vampires, but when the case goes—literally—to hell…er, who you gonna call? 

The Excerpt:

In a way, it was Mike’s fault.

It was his big idea to go out of town. Who the hell went fishing on Halloween? But Barry would have gone along with it. Partly because he’d started thinking he wouldn’t mind some time alone with Mike—and if he had the wrong idea about things, well, it would be better to find out in the middle of nowhere where nobody would notice a black eye. Or two.

He didn’t think he had the wrong idea, though.

Partly he’d have gone fishing with Mike because he knew this was a bad time of year for him. Nobody knew better. Barry was the one who’d pulled Mike off the railings of Suicide Bridge three Halloweens earlier.

They didn’t talk about it. Hadn’t talked about it since the night they’d met. If “met” was the word. More like collided.

Barry had been driving back to the office after a demoralizing interview with the Grand Duchess of Hillcrest Avenue AKA Mrs. Andrew Millar. There was the matter of a missing pearl necklace. Barry had traced that necklace to young Andrew Millar the Second who was in hock up to his shell-like ears to a certain bookie by the name of Griggs Malone. Instead of being pleased to have her missing necklace located, Mrs. Millar had been royally irate at the implication her weedy offspring was a crook. Not only had she not paid Barry, she’d threatened to sue him for defamation of character.
That’s the way it went sometimes.

Anyway, it had been a real witches brew of a night. Not fit for man nor beast, as the poets—or maybe it was the weatherman—said. The rain had been coming down in buckets, buckets of glinting needles—stinging, biting, blinding rain—and he’d had been hunched over the steering wheel of his Ford Crestline, trying to peer through the fogged-up windscreen, when all of a sudden, he’d seen a vision straight out of Central Casting: a man—at first glance he’d looked like a gargoyle—hunched over and poised to jump from the Colorado Street Bridge. White-faced, wild-eyed, soaked to the skin...

Barry had yanked the wheel, car brakes screeching as he pulled to the side of the road. He’d jumped out, and raced back in time to stop Joe Doe from going over—and been socked in the nose for his trouble. Mike was a big guy and that wallop had nearly set Barry on his heels, but Barry had been Glendale College’s lightweight boxing champ for two years running, and he knew his way around a difference of opinion. Besides which, Mike was very drunk. Soused. A hard shove would probably have done the trick, but Barry had piled into him and then dragged a stunned and stumbling Mike to his car and taken him for coffee, eggs and bacon at Bob’s Big Boy on Riverside Drive.

“Why’d you do it, buddy?” Barry had asked when Mike had dried out a little. Dried out physically and figuratively. Barry watched him mop up the last bit of fried egg with a corner of toast. Mike’s fingers were white with the cold, nails ragged—but clean. “What drives a guy like you to pull such a dumbass stunt?”

Mike had stared at him for a long moment. “Demons,” he’d said briefly, bluntly. The way Mike said everything, as Barry was eventually to learn.

That night he’d been willing to accept Mike’s answer since it was demonstrably true. Every man had his demons and Mike Cathan’s had driven him to the edge. Anyone could see that.

Some things you could fix for a guy. Some things you couldn’t. Mike needed a job, and Barry had been able to throw him some work. When Mike came through for him, Barry had put more work his way. To say that a friendship sprang to life that night would sound corny, but yeah, they had grown to be…well, it was hard to say.

Close was maybe not exactly the word. Barry was pretty sure no one was close to Mike. What did that really mean anyway? He liked Mike though, and Mike had saved his life once or twice (three times, according to Mike—but really you couldn’t count the time Vince Mezza pushed Barry out the window of the Astoria Hotel Apartment since he’d mostly landed on the fire escape) so Mike probably liked him back. Or just found it hard to line up a real job.

Barry liked Mike so much that he’d even considered bringing him on as a partner at the agency. At the moment that would be more like asking him to buy shares in the Keely Motor Company. But maybe one day.

Or maybe not.

Being inclined the same way, he’d recognized the truth about Mike pretty quick—he often wondered if that was what had driven Mike to climb up on that rain-slick railing Halloween night. If Mike had ever broached the subject, Barry would have been happy to give him pointers on how to squelch such feelings—he considered himself an expert, having had the devil of a fight to get his own impulses under control. (Mike didn’t even have the excuse of a Catholic school education.) But Mike had never broached the subject, though he must surely have recognized what was in Barry too.

Nor was he a guy you could offer advice to. Even Barry, who was prone to offering unsolicited words of wisdom, knew better than to try to tell Mike what to do. For one thing, Mike was older than Barry. Not so much in years. Mike had been with the Marines on Iwo Jima. He didn’t talk much about it, but that first night he’d admitted to Barry that he’d enlisted when he was only fourteen years old.
Because he was tall, had a muscular build, and even back then weighed 180 pounds, he’d managed to convince the Marine Corps Reserve at Norfolk he was seventeen. He’d forged his mother’s consent and was sent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, where he qualified as a sharpshooter.

Barry was a little jealous of Mike’s military service. It would never have occurred to him to try and lie his way into any branch of the service, and he’d been too small and skinny to have succeeded anyway. He’d been with the Army National Guard, the “Sunshine Division” when Korea started, and had been deployed to Japan for training. But his tour of duty had ended before his division shipped out to Korea. He’d come home safe and sound and enrolled in college while a lot of his friends had ended up dying at Heartbreak Ridge.

College had not worked out for Barry. He didn’t miss the army, but civilian life was a little too tame. He’d quit school to become an “apprentice” to Sam Bell at Bell, Book and Cannon Investigations. Cannon was long dead by then, there had never been any partner named Book—Sam just thought it sounded classy. Anyway, Sam died two years later leaving the business to Barry.

Barry had been working overtime to keep things afloat ever since, but still, he’d have taken time off for Mike, if Mike had come up with a good reason—or any reason—why they should suddenly leave town.

“It seems kind of sudden,” Barry had said, when Mike proposed a three-day weekend trout fishing at Crowley Lake. “We’re still in the middle of the Rothman case. And the Ciciarelli case.”

Mike had shrugged.

“Any special reason it’s got to be this weekend?”

“It’s a good time to get out of town,” Mike said.

“Sure. But the Rothman dame will be at that Halloween party Saturday night, and we’ll get the goods on her then.”

Mike made a face. He did not like adultery cases. Well, who did? But beggars couldn’t be choosers. He liked getting a paycheck, didn’t he? He sure as hell liked eating.

The expression of haughty distaste on Mike’s rough-hewn features should have been funny, but it stung Barry.

“Wouldn’t it make more sense to clear the decks here first and then take off? The fish aren’t going anywhere, are they?”

Mike said grimly (which didn’t mean anything, because he said everything grimly), “This is not a healthy time of year. Not for me. Not for you.”

“What does that mean?” Mike was being even more cryptic than usual.

Mike shrugged.

Barry wanted to go with him. It was the first time Mike had ever asked him to come along on one of his fishing trips, and Barry couldn’t help thinking—hoping—that maybe it signaled a kind of turning point in their friendship. Over the past few months he had started thinking of Mike differently—he wasn’t even sure when or how that unsettling change in feelings had crept over him—but he wanted to believe it was something to do with sensing a change in Mike. Because with Mike…well, everything would be probably okay. At least, that’s how he’d been thinking lately.

“Do you have something in mind?” Barry asked. “Something specific?”

Mike looked at him like he was trying to make his mind up.

Barry said tentatively, feeling kind of silly putting it into words, “Is it to do with what happened…that other Halloween?”

Right then he’d seen Mike’s face close up like a slammed door.

Mike rose. “I’m taking some time. You’re welcome to come,” he said. “Or not.”

The take-it-or-leave-it tone naturally put Barry’s back up.

“So you said. And like I said, I can’t just flit. I’ve got responsibilities. Clients. Cases.” Few enough of ‘em that he couldn’t walk out on the handful he still had.

 “It’s your funeral,” Mike said, which seemed a little somber given they were only talking about fishing.

Weren’t they?

The door had closed softly after Mike.

That was how Barry Fitzgerald (that’s right, wise guy, his mam had a fondness for “the flickers”) came to be sitting in his office at Bell, Book and Cannon Investigations the Saturday night before Halloween. He was drinking bourbon and feeling a little sorry for himself when Margaret Mary O’ Flaherty showed up.

The wrong place at the wrong time.

Miss O’Flaherty said she was looking for a shamus.

Maybe she meant shaman.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Experiment with Kindle Unlimited Take 2

I had kind of a long, involved post about why I'm experimenting with Kindle Unlimited again, especially since the last time I tried it, I basically frustrated readers who don't buy from Amazon--while only earning pretty much exactly the same I always earn with historical.

Well, in a way that's why I thought maybe I should give KU another try. A wacky historical mystery--satire, in fact--was probably not the best choice for experiment.

My goal is visibility with readers who maybe aren't familiar with my work because it's harder and harder to stay on the bestseller lists for any length of time when you're not in KU. The KU-or-bust reader is not so much my target as the readers (like myself) who use KU as a means of testing new authors. If I like the authors I sample, I go on to buy their backlist for real. If I'm not impressed, no harm, no foul. Those are the people I'm after. In other words, I'm using KU to advertise to a readership that is increasingly hard for me to reach. At least as far as my backlist is concerned.

And backlist is the only thing going into KU. I'm putting together a selection of older titles—titles that I have already done many, many sales and giveaways on and that have been available across all vendors for years. Nothing new is going into KU. No one is getting a bargain that you, my longtime readers, haven’t already been offered multiple times.


(Includes The Dark Horse, A Vintage Affair, Blood Red Butterfly, Don’t Look Back, Lovers and Other Strangers, Cards on the Table)

This box set has been available for a while--and across all vendors--but it was priced at $9.99, which is still a really good deal, but... So it's retail price is temporarily slashed to $3.99 and the collection is currently enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.


Metaphors and Murder: The Poetic Death series. 

Readers frequently ask about my mainstream pen name and titles, so for those of you who wondered or would like to sample some of my mainstream work, this collection is for you.

The Poetic Death series was originally published through Pocket Books. The books did well--they were ABA bestsellers, most of them were Romantic Times Top Picks, and the first book--High Rhymes and Misdemeanors--was a Mystery Guild Alternate. Nice, eh?

The books are fun. They're a quirky hybrid blend of cozy mystery and old-fashioned romantic suspense.  

Then we have Partners in Crime: 3 Classic Gay Mystery Novels.

Because the point of this exercise is to introduce my work to readers who might be unfamiliar with more than the latest release, I tried to pick three very different types of mystery, finally settling on a thriller, a cozy and a comic who-dunnit. The novels I selected were Winter Kill, Murder in Pastel, Somebody Killed His Editor.

Again, the box set is listed at $3.99 and the set is available in Kindle Unlimited for 90 days. 


And then finally, I've put together the first three Spanish translations of the Adrien English series into a box set called Los misterios de Adrien English. Again, $3.99 and available in Kindle Unlimited. (This one might actually remain at that price point because I do want to encourage and support the evolving market for Spanish translations of M/M Romance and Mystery.)

So there you have it. I apologize for any inconvenience to those readers who don't purchase through Amazon, but to reiterate, there is nothing new here and nothing that hasn't been available (though granted not at these prices) for a long time at all vendors.

In 90 days I’ll let you know what the results were and whether I think this second experiment with Kindle Unlimited was a success or a mistake.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Happy Autumn! Five Things to Love

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, but I like them because, although they're simple, they give everyone reading the blog an opportunity to join in. I enjoy when a blog post turns into a conversation.

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.

So.

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

Author! Author! MEG PERRY

This morning we have another installment of Author! Author! with talented mystery maven Meg Perry, author of the long-running Jamie Brodie series. I've known Meg online for several years, but finally got to meet her last spring on Catalina Island. Watch out for the quiet ones. Just sayin. Meg has a brand new book out this week, which you can learn about right  here.

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 clich├ęs. 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
otherwise.


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?

MP -I love the surprises that characters spring on me. For instance, in Hoarded to Death, when Jon Eckhoff first walked up to the reference desk, I had NO idea that sparks would fly between him and Liz Nguyen. But bam! There they were, flirting madly with each other. It’s as if stuff just falls out of my fingers onto the keyboard sometimes. That’s so much fun. What’s tiresome is going back through each manuscript, looking for all the places I’ve used “very” and “good” and replacing them with more sophisticated vocabulary. And I HATE writing blurbs. Ugh.

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

Another Update Wherein I Offer Excuses

It's not like I want to miss deadlines and make readers sad. But stuff keeps happening and I keep missing the ball. It's uncomfortable. It's awkward. It's...not like me. Or at least not the old me. The new me...not sure.


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)
Blind Side
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

Author! Author! FELICE STEVENS

Welcome, Dear Readers, to another edition of AUTHOR! AUTHOR! Wherein I introduce you to some of my favorite writing friends...like today's guest, the delightful Felice Stevens.

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?

FS - Well I could say because we are incredibly organized types, but I’d die laughing, because I’m the least organized person I know. I think, at least for me, that case law is like a story—the facts, the consequences of the facts and the ending. Plus we write SO DAMN MUCH. It was one of the reasons I became a lawyer and not a doctor. I can’t do math to save my life and I was a good essay writer.

 Do you eat breakfast? Did you know it's the most important meal of the day? What's your favorite breakfast food?

FS - Yes, mother. LOL I do eat breakfast. I love plain Greek yogurt with lots of fresh fruit. In the winter, I eat oatmeal with fruit.

 I have to eat more oatmeal! So we've established that you rock the contemporary 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? 

FS - Well, I do have a shifter story in the back of my mind. And I also have 3 full length and one half written MF Regency romances in my computer, sitting waiting for me to retire so I can go back and cringe at what I wrote in 2013. ;)  That should be interesting.

  Name three of your all-time favorite childhood books. Do you think those stories influenced your own writing? How so?

FS - I grew up on the Nancy Drew mysteries and moved on to Alfred Hitchcock anthologies. I always wanted to write a good mystery story. <grin> But that’s not happening. 

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? 

FS - Sure! Kindle Worlds are an Amazon only imprint that use already published series as a basis for creating new stories in that world. So, it’s basically fan fiction that you can now get paid for writing. Amazon took my Memories series and The Breakfast Club series since there is some cross-over and authors and readers who want to write a story about one of my characters, or create their own to live in my “world” can now do so and get paid. Unfortunately right now it is US only, but they are working to make it international.
  
That's excellent. Good for you, Missy! It couldn't happen to a nicer person or more deserving author. Next question. I've met your Mister and he's a hoot. How did you two meet?

FS - That’s one word for him! Haha. We met on a blind date. J We had a nice Japanese dinner where I broke date rule number one and had Udon. Totally messy but I guess it worked!  Although I have a funny story because he mentioned on our first date he didn’t like spicy food and I love it so my whole way home all I could think of was “How am I supposed to date a man who doesn’t like Mexican food?” P.S. He now loves Mexican food lol.

 :-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?

FS - I love the feeling when a character reveals their story. I love when the words flow and you’re typing away and before you look up you’ve typed a thousand or two thousand words without stopping. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen too often, but when it does, it’s exhilarating.

I dislike the way some think it’s a me vs. you environment. That if you do well, it means I can’t. I don’t like the thought of people coming into this genre simply for the money. I hate the thought of so much pulling us apart. For a genre that’s all about love we need to practice more of what we write about. I also dislike the uncertainty of publishing. You might think that’s funny for someone who isn’t the most well organized person, but I don’t like not knowing what’s going to happen one month to the next. Probably why I don’t like going to court.

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? 

FS - I have NEVER touched my eyebrows. Ouch. It even looks painful. I love Carmex. Lol I have to have it or my lips gets very dry. That and sunscreen because I’m pale and burn and have already had two bouts with basal cell on my face. Yuck.

 You sexy thang, you! :-D Readers of this blog love funny food allergy stories. Can you share any amusing near death experiences brought on by a food allergy?

FS - Oh what a fun question! Not. LOL I don’t have any food allergies but I once took chewable Claritin for my seasonal allegories and it swelled up my lips so much I could barely talk. My kids loved that. Haha.


 What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully realized main characters?

FS - That they need to be imperfect. I know people have often said that they get frustrated by my guys because they make stupid decisions or they go back and forth. But to me that’s realistic. If everyone made the right choice the first time, we’d never learn from mistakes and I think that makes us more interesting. Plus it makes our characters more human. I’d rather have a person fumble and fall down and learn to pick himself up than be superhuman perfect from the start.

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?


FS - I am to a point. I believe there is something out there. I do love watching those mediums, and wonder if they are all fake or if my parents are there watching me….Sorry, Mom and Dad. J And I also believe that if a hundred people make that illegal U-turn and don’t get a ticket, if I do it, I’ll be the one to get that ticket. So there’s that. Karma maybe? Yeah I believe in that.

 Ha! What are you working on now? What's out next?

FS - Oh there’s lots in the hopper. I have Under the Boardwalk which is part of Kade Boehme’s and my Landmarks series, based on different NYC landmarks. Under the Boardwalk is the story of Alexi, a Russian American man who’s never left Brooklyn and works on the Coney Island Boardwalk and Cam, the former opera singer turned teacher who sings on the boardwalk during the summer. They may be my sweetest couple yet.

 Then I have All or Nothing, which is the story of Rico, the closeted Cuban –American caterer from Learning to Love and Adam Barton, the fire fighter from Beyond the Surface who’s fighting some pretty big demons from his past.

There are also audiobooks a comin’. Kale Williams narrated the second book in the Through Hell and Back series, After the Fire and is working on the third and last book. Derrick McClain is right at his heels with Learning to Love. Seth Clayton is working on One Call Away and Nick Russo is hard at it with The Shape of You.

Just a few things as you can see. J

 Yeah, one or two. Ha! Favorite cocktail? 

FS - Margarita!

 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?

FS - I don’t overthink things. I just do it. You might not think so but I’m not always on line yakking away. I wake up early and write. I write at lunch. I write when I come home before I have dinner. I don’t set word counts. I prefer to think in terms of chapters and strive for a chapter a day, but if I don’t and choose to play around on Facebook or if I am very busy at work, I don’t beat myself up over it.  I have almost a mile walk to and from work every day so it not only gives me time to prepare for my day, I think about my characters. When I get in front of the computer I have something loosely formulated to start with. I take those thoughts and run with it.

My book I’m most proud of? One Call Away. I love the characters and I wanted to show the Jewish religion in a positive framework. Too many books follow the theme of the forbidding religious father and that’s not always the case. Judaism is such a family oriented religion. I wanted my book to reflect that. I guess I’m tired of stereotypes. I wrote the book I wanted to read. Plus it took me a year to write and that’s crazy for me.

That's great. I love that. Now tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!


FS - Despite all the traveling I do, I hate to fly. Makes me nervous as hell. Plus, I think we’ve discussed this before and you all called me an alien, I have never had a cheeseburger. Or eaten bacon. But I swear I’m human. J

(You do seem pretty in touch with the human heart, so I'll give you that one. ;-) )

Friday, August 18, 2017

Sneak Peek - MURDER TAKES THE HIGH ROAD

You will be amazed to hear I've had to do a bit of reshuffling my schedule once again. It's just that kind of year. We've got family visiting, I've got the usual big summer music gig at the end of the month, and a looming deadline for Carina Press. So I've jumped from Blind Side to Murder Takes the High Road in order to hit that deadline.

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:
Vacationing librarian Carter Matheson must solve the murder of fellow tourists when someone begins picking off members of a mystery-themed bus tour traveling through the scenic highlands and islands of Scotland.


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.

The door rattled noisily in its frame as someone banged on it.

“At this point the handyman's just going to be in the way,” I grumbled.

John leaned out of the bathroom and opened the door.

Trevor stood on the landing wearing a ferocious scowl and the blue cashmere sweater I’d bought him for his thirty-ninth birthday.

 “It’s for you,” John told me.

I gave him the look that speaks volumes, as we say in the librarian biz.

Trevor, too, was giving him a look. “Do you mind?” he said.


“Yep. I do,” John replied. “I’ve got thirteen minutes left to get ready for dinner and you’re about to take up way too many of them.” He withdrew into the bathroom once more, though the door remained open.
“Fine. Whatever.” Trevor swung back to me and realigned his glare. “How dare you go around telling everybody that Vance tried to shove you in front of a car?”

There wasn’t time to stop and argue. I hastily kicked out of the blue jeans I’d been wearing all day and pulled on a clean pair of black jeans. “I never said that.”

“Bullshit, Carter. Everyone on the bus was whispering about it.”

“I can’t help what people saw.” Okay, yes, I probably could have phrased that more tactfully. Trevor’s face got redder. I said quickly, “What they think they saw.”

“You sure didn’t try to correct them.”

I pawed through my suitcase for a clean pair of socks. It wasn’t that I didn’t have plenty of clean clothes, but from the state of my suitcase, you’d think Hamish had thrown our suitcases down a cliffside before stowing them in the bus’s luggage compartment. I threw a harassed look over my shoulder. “How do you know what I did or didn’t do?”

“I know you, Carter. I know how you operate. You’re doing everything you can to ruin this trip for me.”

That got my attention. I stopped digging through my suitcase, and straightened up so fast I’m surprised I didn’t throw my back out. “Explain how I’m ruining this trip for you?”

“Every time I turn around, there you are again with that accusing stare.”

Really?” John said from the bathroom. I think both Trevor and I had forgotten he was still in there.  I certainly hadn’t thought he could hear us over the sound of running water. We both stared at him, framed in the bathroom doorway, slowly, deliberately drawing the razor across his square jaw. He scraped away another snowy drift of shaving cream and said to Trevor, “Because you’re the one who keeps showing up at our door.”

 “Our?” Trevor looked even more taken aback. “How does this involve you?”

“It’s my room. Half my room.”

I think it genuinely threw Trevor. In any event it was a second or two before he turned back to me. “Do you really want to do this here?” he asked in a tone I knew only too well.

“I don’t want to do it at all. Look, I’m not accusing Vance of anything. I don’t think he deliberately pushed me into the road. If you’d shut up about it, people would lose interest in the subject.”

“He’s right,” John said.

“Nobody asked you,” Trevor snapped.

“If you’re going to have this conversation in my room, then I have a right to express my opinion.”

It probably wasn’t funny, but somehow at that moment, it seemed funny.

Trevor opened his mouth but I cut him off.  “Okay, time out. In fact, game over. Trevor, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not leaving the tour. And if that’s going to ruin it for you, sorry. I have every much right to be here as you do.”

“This is just more of your passive-aggressive—”

“Uh, no,” John said, rinsing off his razor. “That’s aggressive-aggressive.”

Will you keep out of it?” Trevor shouted. “This isn’t any of your business.”

The lights flickered and went out. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Farewell, my Lovelies


Angel's Flight
A couple of weeks ago, the SO and I went on a tour of Old Los Angeles. Well, Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles, not OLD (as in Spanish) LA. Anyway, I haven't been downtown--really downtown--in decades, although I do write about the area in stories like Snowball in Hell.

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.



Anyway.

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

Killing It (A New Monthly Column for M/M Mystery Writers)

This morning's blog is basically just a signpost to a new monthly column I'm writing for Larissa over at BookWinked.

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!


Friday, July 28, 2017

Five Entertaining Crime Documentaries You're Sure to Enjoy

1 - Sour Grapes - How a geeky twenty-something conned the world of wine collecting (and ended up as the first person convicted of wine fraud in the US). If you love wine, but hate the pretentious nonsense that so often supersedes genuine passion for the grape, you'll enjoy this one a lot. The real hero here is the unassuming but determined third generation proprietor of Domaine Ponsot, who travels to the US, determined to unravel the mystery of who is counterfeiting his wines.

Stream-able on Netflix

2 - The Jinx - Frankly chilling miniseries based on the life and crimes of Robert Durst (maybe you've seen the Ryan Gosling film All Good Things?). I was convinced of Durst's guilt long before the final episode. Even so, I felt a genuine sense of shock when I heard Durst's off camera comments. While it's true, his mumbles could be interpreted another way, I think this is one of those times you go with your gut reaction.

Available on HBO and Amazon

3 - Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery -  A really fascinating insight into the art world--and the art underworld. I've seen a lot of films (both fiction and non-fiction) on art forgery, but I don't think I've ever seen one as informative and entertaining as this. Up until this documentary I think I dismissed the idea that forgery could be, well, an art in its own right. And while I don't applaud what this master forger did, holy moly he's an engaging guy.

Streamable on Netflix

4 - The Keepers - Given that I turned my back on Catholicism at age thirteen when I dramatically refused to make my Confirmation (and learned that if you're going to cancel a party, don't wait until the day of the party to do it), I'm not sure why I have residual defensiveness about the Catholic church. All those jokes about pregnant nuns and pedophile priests? Not funny IMHO. Be that as it may, this is the heartbreaking and horrifying story of the (officially) "unsolved" murder of a young nun in 1969 -- and the determined effort of some of her students to find justice for her.


This miniseries might be exclusive to Netflix? Not sure.



5 - Soaked in Bleach - If you wonder why Curt Cobain killed himself...maybe he didn't. In fact, after seeing this documentary, I'm convinced he didn't. Ex-cop now PI Tom Grant makes a very credible witness, and builds, I think, a pretty impressive circumstantial case.

Streamable on Netflix


And one bonus offering. I've mentioned The Imposter before. Nearly four years after he disappears from his home in Texas, Nicholas Barclay turns up safely in Spain claiming he was kidnapped. HEA? Keep watching. It's sad and creepy--and a cautionary tale about how vulnerable guilt and grief can make anyone.

Available on Amazon and elsewhere.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Author! Author! CARROLL S. POE

Hello again and welcome to another edition of Author! Author! wherein I introduce you to some of my writer pals. Not all my pals are mystery or crime authors, but I'm always thrilled when someone is because, despite the sudden flood of people trying to break into the mystery genre, it's not as easy as I make it look. AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT? ;-)

C. S. Poe doesn't only write mystery and suspense, but that's where she's really making a name for herself. I first met Carroll...well, honestly, I'm not sure. IT'S A MYSTERY. No, seriously, we interacted for a couple of years online and then I finally met her in person on Catalina Island a few months ago. WHAT HAPPENS IN CATALINA STAYS IN CATALINA. That is all.

Without further adieu, Meet my criminous little pal, Miz Poe.

Do you have a favorite cocktail? Can you share the recipe?

CSP - Not really. I usually stick with Whiskey Ginger or just whiskey neat.

Uh huh. We'll let that pass. What happens in Catalina stays in Catalina. So...why mysteries? What attracted you to a life of crime?

CSP - There's a thrill obtained from the uncertainty of a mystery that is unique. Who did it? Why? How does it end? Will the protagonist survive? The questions we, or at least myself, ask with a good mystery, build up a sort of adrenaline. We get to piece together clues, uncover an enigma and settle our innate curiosity to know more, all while building a sort of one-on-one relationship with the hero.
On more of a writer's level, I love how a hunt and the unknown propel a plot forward. Plus, I have a tendency to toss a lot of history into my books (great random facts for small talk at a party, try them sometime!) and when a mystery deals with murderous crimes, stolen items, etc., it's just begging for some sort of historical oddity to be inserted for good measure.

Standalone versus series. What do you prefer as a writer? How about as a reader?

CSP - As a writer, I like series more. But, but, but! I can admit when a book doesn't NEED to be a series and is quite capable of standing on its own. As a reader, I love a series that follows the same characters.

Yeah, they both have their pros and cons. Speaking of pros -- and cons -- is it true that your day job is bouncer for a night club? Why not? You look so young and innocent you'd be able to get the drop on drunks before they ever saw you coming. 

CSP - I can never get work as a bouncer because the clubs just keep carding me! Remember when the waiter on Catalina carded me? Everyone laughed. LAUGHED! But I'd be a great bouncer. Tiny but fierce.

I agree, Mighty Mouse. And also the money is better in bouncing, from what I understand. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully-realized main characters?

CSP - Rhys Ford said it perfectly, in that, 'sometimes people do things.' It's critical to remember--romance book or not-- that characters should have limitations and flaws. They are human and should act as such, and sometimes that means a character has to make the wrong choice in order to find themselves, learn a lesson, or win the guy in the end. Sometimes people do things.


Fun fact. Rhys was my first Author! Author! interview. Or maybe that was ZAM? Because she completed her homework first? But anyway, Rhys was one of the first, if not the first. So anyway, 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?

CSP - In the magazine's defense, every time I see someone with wacky, out of control eyebrows that are attempting to crawl up their forehead, I kind of want to comb them.

How do you deal with the criticism that is part and parcel of any job in the arts?

CSP - Art is meant to move an individual. Whether I moved a reader to five star or one star, I did my job as an author. I touched them deeply enough that they were encouraged to say something. So as long as the science of my writing is firm (that being grammar, structure, the understanding and ability to build a cohesive plot) there is nothing for me to get upset about. Not every piece of art moves us in the same way.

So. True. And speaking of reviews and reviewers, have you ever broken a bone? Have you ever broken anyone else's bones? You must have because your day job is bouncer. Have any of your victims sued you?

CSP - My left wrist. I didn't keep it straight when I cold-cocked an ornery dancer being tossed from the club! What can I say, rookie mistake. ;)

Haha. I knew it! As I said to S.C. Wynne when we were watching you knock back those Whiskey Gingers, I bet she's broken that wrist cold-cocking customers! Ahem. Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?

CSP - I don't think so. I'm partial to mystery, contemporary romance, and paranormal (including Steampunk), so I write those. I am a selective reader of fantasy and sci-fi, but could never write those genres, especially sci-fi. My brain isn't wired for that, so I applaud authors who excel in those genres specifically.

One thing readers of this blog just can't get enough of are funny stories about food allergies. Can you share any amusing near death experiences brought on by a food allergy?

CSP - Mrs. White did it in the kitchen with the poison!

LOL. EXACTLY. So. What are the elements that make a C. S. Poe book unique? What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

CSP - Dry humor, witty dialogue, useless facts, and dead bodies often found in unfortunate circumstances. What? It's true. Has anyone read The Mystery of the Curiosities? I put bodies everywhere in that book. Like it was some kind of competition! In all seriousness, I think as a writer I am adept at snappy dialogue and weaving more than one genre together successfully, in most cases that being mysteries and romances.

 How many cats do you currently own? Are you in danger of becoming a cat lady? What about becoming Cat Woman? Crime may not pay, but it pays better than writing. Agree or disagree? Show your math.

CSP - Let's see... 3 cats, divided by my current age, plus the number of cats I wish I owned, equals the value of Faberge's long lost third Imperial Egg from 1887. That'd make me a millionaire if I took to a life of crime and cat-napped it. So I agree.

:-D :-D :-D What are you working on right now? What's coming out next?

CSP - I'm wrapping up edits on Southernmost Murder and writing Snow & Winter 3, but the next release is actually a holiday, contemporary romance called Color of You.

Are you religious? Would you be religious if you were falling off a cliff? What if you were pushed? 

CSP - *slowly backs away from cliff and gives Josh a wide berth.* I've got my eye on you, lady.

*Looks innocent while whistling aimlessly.* Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!

CSP - One time I crashed my bike while I was parked.

:-D :-D :-D There you have it, folks. The REAL C. S. Poe. You can find out more about Carroll and her work on her website and her Facebook page -- Oh! AND she's doing this really cool thing right here.  I think you might even want to kick in.