Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Big Thank You!

Huge thanks to RT Book Review and their reviewers, for nominating CITY OF DRAGONS for a 2010 Reviewers Choice Award in Historical Mystery!

I'm honored to be in the company of Jeri Westerson, Rhys Bowen, Charles Todd, and Deanne Raybourn, and am looking forward to attending the RT Book Convention in April (my first!)

It's hard to believe that November is here--especially with summer temperatures in Giants-loving, World Series winner San Francisco. Boy, typing those words felt good! ;)

October flew by on a supersonic broomstick. First there was Litcrawl, which was a load of fun--Michelle Gagnon, Simon Wood, Julianne Balmain and Seth Harwood and I all read from our books for "Mystery and Mayhem" at the Mission District Police Station. Wonderful crowd for the festival!

Bouchercon by the Bay was an incredible experience. I am awed every year by the sheer amount of dedication, time, energy and passion that Bcon volunteers bring to this event, and continually amazed at the miracle they make happen. San Francisco was an exceptional Bouchercon--and the City's weather cooperated and played nice.

I was busy from Thursday morning (a guest at the Bouchercon newbie's breakfast) through very late Thursday night (with a very cool Subterranean Noir Manifesto event in North Beach, through Peter Maravelis and the celebrated City Lights Bookstore).

Friday through Sunday zoomed by. I greatly enjoyed moderating a panel on books to movies (with the incomparable Val McDermid and terrific panelists Paul Levine, Derek Haas and Alexandra Sokoloff); was honored to be a panelist on the "San Francisco Noir Panel" moderated by Peter, with fabulous writers Domenic Stansberry, Lisa Lutz, David Corbett, and the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, all of whom were also part of the Noir Manifesto evening; met a ton of wonderful readers, spent some time with friends and colleagues and rooted for award-nominated pals; and did all the stuff authors usually do at Bouchercon--except for the bar. I came home before midnight, like a good girl.

Once it was over, I caught the post-Bouchercon virus--and have spent the last few weeks fighting the typical nasty cough, sore throat, etc. etc. I'm almost back to normal. Watched a lot of movies in the meantime--and can't recommend DEAD OF NIGHT, a 1945 classic by the British Ealing Studios, highly enough. Not a noir, just a great horror movie.

In the meantime, the GIANTS won, my galleys of THE CURSE-MAKER arrived, and I've been in the midst of plans for a brand-new (and very content-rich) website, launching soon--complete with prizes and a party!

On November 20th, I'll be stepping away from pressing deadlines to read at the recently-restored Sunset Branch library in San Francisco, with authors Mark Coggins, Deborah Grabien, Michelle Richmond, Mary Germaine Hountalas, and Lois Ungaretti. The theme is "West Side Stories: Mystery and History."

Thanks for reading Writing in the Dark, and stay tuned for updates on the new website ... it's shaping up to be quite a springy fall! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bouchercon Comes to San Francisco!

In just three short weeks the city of San Francisco will be overrun by people thinking about murder.

In a good way! ;)

Bouchercon, the world's largest crime fiction event, is coming to Hammett's city. Writers, readers, editors, agents, librarians, book collectors, book stores ... it's a giant festival of crime (writing), right here in my home.

If you like mystery--and you live anywhere in the Bay Area--try not to miss it. The cast list is huge, and the events will knock your socks off.

Bouchercon is extra-special to me. My first large conference (in October, 2007, almost a year before my debut book was released) was in Anchorage, Alaska. I've written before about how much that seminal experience taught me; how it focused me on taking the plunge into writing the book that would become CITY OF DRAGONS.

Bouchercon also served as my introduction to the crime fiction family at large ... and being a part of that family is truly the best part of being a writer. I dedicated CITY OF DRAGONS to my initiatory Alaskan experience, and I'm looking forward to another spectacular and special time right here in my own backyard, complete with Bertie, who gets to play Toto. ;)

BTW, Bouchercon is pronounced "Bow-cher-con". I knew it originated with Anthony Boucher, a prolific mystery writer from the 40s who also used to review for our very own San Francisco Chronicle! I used to think his last name was pronounced as if it were French (Boo-shaycon), as in the Rococo painter. However you pronounce it, it adds up to a whole lot of fun. :)

Right now, I'm preparing for the conference--working on the launch for a robust and exciting new website--and working on the next two Miranda Corbie books. And gearing up for THE CURSE-MAKER launch! We just received the final cover yesterday, and it's utterly fabulous--spooky, creepy, intriguing, mysterious, with evocative and subtle allusions to Roman culture. In other words: PERFECT!

In two weeks I'll be participating in San Francisco's LitCrawl, the culminating literary trek of Litquake. I'm in Phase Two with friends Michelle Gagnon, Simon Wood, Julianne Balmain and Seth Harwood. We'll be reading in the Mission District police station in between lineups (no kidding!) so if you're in the area, c'mon by! No need to get arrested first. ;)

At Bouchercon, I'll be participating on two panels, and in the "black envelope" event on Thursday night (about which I'm sworn to silence, but can only say: don't miss it!!)

My panels are fabulous, and I have the thrill and pleasure of participating with good friends and favorite writers:

Thursday at 4:30 PM: "Year of the Locusts: Books to Movies". I'm moderating, and the panel features Ken Bruen, Val McDermid, Paul Levine and Derek Haas.

Friday at 3:00 PM: "No Minor Vices: SF Noir". Peter Maravelis is moderating, with David Corbett, Lisa Lutz, Eddie Muller and Domenic Stansberry.

Is it any wonder I can't wait? :)

Day passes are available for the conference. If you're in San Francisco from October 14th-17th, drop in--you won't be disappointed! Litquake one week, Bouchercon the next--San Francisco is Lit City in October!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Springing Forward in the Fall

It's funny how time works.

The whole relativity thing may be provable mathematically, but I'm more interested in the emotional effects of how time feels ... you know, how it speeds up and slows down all at once, depending on what you're doing--and sometimes who you're doing it with.

The last couple of months have gone by quickly from the vantage point of today ... I spent most of the summer writing the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS--tentative title is CITY OF SPIDERS--which will be out next year in the late summer or early fall. And while I was writing it--while I was following Miranda through some suspenseful and harrowing events--time was excruciatingly slow.

But not really.

Then came a week of copy editing for THE CURSE-MAKER, which is releasing February 1st, 2011. Now, I'm not a huge fan of the copy editing process, so it seemed much longer than a week. And while the non-writer part of my brain thinks February is a comfortable few months away (all those holidays, after all!), the writer part of my brain (which takes up more space) is about to panic. ;)

So time isn't just relative between people ... it's relative within ourselves. But hey, this is Writing in the Dark, not metaphysics, so I'm gonna try not to think about it too hard.

What is coming up is Bouchercon, and this year I get to stay home. Yup, it's coming to San Francisco, which means no jet lag for me, though I still won't get to stay up as late as I'd like because I've got to get myself back home and don't have the luxury of just rolling into a hotel room. This year will be special, as all parties in San Francisco are!

Before B'con is the big lollapalooza lit festival our City likes to throw: Litquake! This year I'm part of LitCrawl, which means I get to hang out with wonderful crime writing friends and read from CITY OF DRAGONS inside an old police station. This qualifies as a cool and wholly unexpected perq of being a writer.

We're also in the midst of designing a bigger and better website, of which Writing in the Dark will be an integral part. It's based on the stuff I like to do when I'm on the web--i.e. have fun--so it's going to be more interactive and offer more historical extras to look at, listen to and watch. It also means I'm making it a resolution to update my blog more frequently, even if I have to act out the title!

So cool stuff is coming up. Seeing THE CURSE-MAKER in print will be a dream come true, as Arcturus and Co. move to Thomas Dunne/Minotaur. Lots of research went into this one (research spent in Bath, England). And this series is more light-hearted than Miranda, so it complements what will be coming out in CITY OF SPIDERS.

I'm working on the next books--and sketching out plans for a contemporary, stand-alone thriller. If I can squeeze in the time, I may write a short story or two. The experience of having "Children's Day"--my CITY OF DRAGONS prequel--published in FIRST THRILLS this summer was one of the major thrills of my life.

I'll be back soon, writing about noir or about adventures in research, and in the meantime, want to thank YOU for reading, and send thanks to all those readers who brought a blog award to Writing in the Dark. Thanks so much for your support!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rip van Who?

You know, I think Washington Irving was on to something about Rip Van Winkle.

Except in my version of the story, I fly to New York in April to attend my first Edgar Awards Banquet (it was amazing); catch a horrendous case of bronchitis on the flight home (or more likely on the way there, since I was seated in front of a poor, coughing teenager); am out of commission for a full two weeks; and then put my head down and ...

WRITE. No sleeping, not for this Winkle.

As we speak, I'm nearing the conclusion of CITY OF SPIDERS--the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS. I hoped to have it finish much earlier, but this has been an extremely challenging year in many ways, even for a double Gemini with Multi-Tasking as my middle name. Somewhere in June, I even celebrated a birthday ... like van Winkle, I emerge from my blogless state older and a little confused.

From you, dear blog readers, I have been absent in the spring ... but I hope you forgive me. :) As soon as CITY OF SPIDERS is finished, my goal is to wax weekly at Writing in the Dark!

Now, today itself is of some note: FIRST THRILLS, the International Thriller Writers anthology featuring just a ton of wonderful authors, all of whom I'm honored to be published with--is released! My Miranda Corbie short story "Children's Day" is included, and takes place nearly a year before CITY OF DRAGONS--the entire story is set during the World's Fair on Treasure Island.

I was also very lucky to be interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner, and that article also came out today! So ... between the solstice, the launch of FIRST THRILLS, and the Examiner, I decided to take a novel writing evening off. ;)

I'll also be taking a weekend off to fly back to New York for Thrillerfest in just a couple of weeks! And soon ... very soon, I hope ... CITY OF SPIDERS will, at last, be finished.

THEN I sleep ... and start writing again. :)

Thanks again for reading, and if you're up New York way for Thrillerfest, I hope you stop by to say hello! :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Springing Forward

T.S. Eliot may have characterized April as the cruelest month, but personally, I think he just needed a vacation. Such a pessimist ... without even the excuse of an IRS deadline. ;)

So ... I can't believe spring is already here ... we were just in the throes of winter!

Last time I posted, I was on my way to Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime ... which was a fabulous conference, as it always is, despite a nasty cold I developed a couple of days before the flight.

Speaking of flight, what a thrill it was to ride Angel's Flight and eat at China Cafe (rumored to be Marlowe's old hangout for chop suey) with friends and fabulous writers Keith Raffel and Bill Cameron. And to see Rebecca Cantrell and Rita Lakin win awards (for the Bruce Alexander and Lefty, respectively). And to participate on a Pulp Fiction panel with some great writers, among them Eric Beetner, author of ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD, who also very generously filmed a candid video interview with me for Spinetingler Magazine. Another video, this one filmed by JohnRay Gutierrez of Kepler's in a film noir style, was also a ton of fun--you can check it out below.

While at LCC, I signed at the venerable Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, had a chance to at least say hi to a lot of friends like the delightful and talented writer Holly West, and all in all, it was the best time I've ever had with a cold. :)

Just a little later in March, I flew to Portland and the Public Library Association Conference. This was quite an event--I loved meeting librarians from all over the country, had a chance to chat with friend Wilda Williams from Library Journal, and generally enjoyed a fabulous time signing copies of CITY OF DRAGONS and giving them away. I only wish we hadn't run out in such a short time!

Same evening I gave a reading and signing at Powell's in Beaverton. If you haven't been to a Powell's, make it an ambition. These giant independent bookstores are monuments to literacy and the great reading public of Portland, and it was an honor to sign there.

Throughout my Portland adventure, I palled around with stellar author and friend Bill Cameron. Bill lives in Portland, and I'm eagerly awaiting his next book, DAY ONE, a hot and riveting thriller from a superb writer. Don't miss it!

On April 1st, I experienced the rare pleasure of reading CITY OF DRAGONS in a Chinatown bar. It was part of Subterranean Noir, a Litquake/City Lights event in which the brilliant Edgar-winning author Domenic Stansberry and I had a chance to showcase our work in the basement of one of Chinatown's most venerable "joints" ... and luckily for us, hardboiled writer Mark Coggins (THE BIG WAKEUP), who is not only a great writer, but a great photographer, was on hand to shoot some film. You can read about it in Mark's blog on The Huffington Post.

I'll be heading back to the City of Angels in a couple of weeks for the LA Times Festival of the Book, where I'll be signing with Mysterious Galaxy and The Mystery Bookstore. A few days later, it's NYC and the Edgars, my first time attending the "Oscars" of the mystery-writing world.

But what I've really been doing--and will be doing for the next couple of months--is writing. I'm deep into the sequel of CITY OF DRAGONS--working title is CITY OF SPIDERS--and am racing toward my deadline and the finish line.

In other news, the audio version of CITY OF DRAGONS is now available, and I was thrilled and delighted to see the hardcover reach #2 on the IMBA Bestsellers list for February--and a heartfelt thank you to all the readers, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and friends and colleagues who made that happen! I was also privileged and honored by a recent review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Have a wonderful April--and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

City of Dragons Tour - on the way to LCC!

So last we met, I was in San Diego. Now I'm about to leave for Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime.

What happened??

Well, I've discovered a new law of physics. Time bends when you're on the road, true ... but when you get home--and try to continue a book tour from your own sweet domicile--time really messes with your head. It's also more tiring by far ... because you're having to juggle your "normal" life (in my case, a day job, taking care of springer spaniel Bertie, buying toothpaste, etc.) with your "writer" life (driving all over to events and signing your book).

In short, everything snuck up on me, and I still haven't really caught up from the long distance part of the CITY OF DRAGONS march. But I did download some wonderful photos of the desert, and will post them soon ... I promise. In the meantime, here's a recap, from the middle of February to now:

Mysterious Galaxy is a wonderful store--known as the Cheers of the mystery world and for good reason! I had a blast hanging out with Patrick and Michael, and was sorry to leave ... but can't wait to return. They're the best!!!

The next day (February 13th) we made a beautiful and really incredible drive across I-8, skimming along the US/Mexico border through California and southern Arizona. The geographic landscape was jaw-dropping. Craggy, desert mountains with piles of giant reddish boulders that looked like some gargantuan god piled them up to skim along a now-dead lake ... I yelped when I saw my first saguaro cactus, multiple arms stretching toward the sun. Ocotillo too, looking like desert-dancing seaweed against the dry, vulnerable earth. I fell in love with the desert on this ride, and can't wait to go back.

We stopped for lunch in Yuma, easily imagining either Glenn Ford or Russell Crowe alongside the still prominent train that runs right through the town ... but the only thing criminal we found was the sinfully delicious Mexican food at Tacos Mi Rancho. Truly--the best, the very best, Mexican food I've had anywhere--including Texas. Yuma, I take off my hat to you!

A bit later, we stopped at Dateland, Arizona, which is a wonderful little oasis that serves fresh date milkshakes and sells all kinds of dates. A grove--with grapefruit trees in front--looms in the distance over the diner and gift shop. It's one of those old-fashioned tourist places that are sadly disappearing, getting swallowed up in homogenized conglomerates disguising themselves as mom and pops (Starbucks, anybody?). We loved it! (and the milkshake was delicious).

We turned north on a state highway, and finally made it into Scottsdale as the sun was setting. A beautiful place, and the land is so ... delicate. And beautiful. And gentle, too, at least in winter.

Next morning, we had a great breakfast at a place called Butterfields, and then to a signing and Valentine's Day party at the Poisoned Pen! I am a big, big fan of Barbara and Rob, and it was an honor to be there ... and an honor for CITY OF DRAGONS to make four of their "pick" lists, including the Hardboiled Club. I loved meeting everyone, and had a grand time, followed by dinner at a fabulous pizza place just down the street.

The next morning we were off again, this time along I-10 to LA. Not as dramatically beautiful, but lovely nevertheless, and a mid-day stop in the fascinating little waterhole known as Quartzite, Arizona, is worthy of its own post. We also rested for a bit at the I-10 equivalent of Dateland, called the Chiriaco Summit--which houses not only a vintage-style diner, shop and tiny post office, but a George Patton museum.

We finally made it to Culver City, our home away from home, and stayed in the Clark Gable suite at the Culver Hotel, which was a real treat. Gable must have helped sprinkle sleep dust, because we woke relatively refreshed, and ready for an equally long drive back to San Francisco up 101.

Since arriving home, I've been on the road around the Bay Area, doing upwards of two signings a week, plus signing stock at Barnes and Noble ... and the tour isn't over. Tomorrow I fly to Left Coast Crime ... which is where I came in. :)

I'm wrestling a cold right now, but plan to prop myself up on tea, Vitamin C and adrenalin, at least long enough to have a great time on a panel tomorrow afternoon and at a reading/signing at Book Soup tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading -- and hope to see you somewhere along the journey! :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

City of Dragons - City of Angels Tour!

Today I'm blogging from San Diego, where I'm looking forward to a signing at the fabulous Mysterious Galaxy!

Time is whizzing by, calendar pages flipping in a black and white montage ... it seems like just yesterday (well, OK, the day before the day before yesterday) that we drove to LA.

The drive down was beautiful (not many rain showers, despite prediction of thunder and hail), and we enjoyed a requisite stop for caffeine rejuvenation in Salinas for breakfast and spit pea soup rejuvenation at Andersen's Pea Soup restaurant in Buellton, outside Solvang.

BTW--danish is Solvang is really Danish--and utterly delightful. One of the pleasures of driving down Highway 101, amid the stately mission bells along the old El Camino Real.

We stayed at the Culver Hotel--a queen among hostelries, and right next to the Culver Studios (formerly RKO, Selznick and part of MGM). Who wouldn't want to stay in a beautifully refurbished historic hotel, with a great bar, food menu and the magic ambiance of former guests like Clark Gable and Judy Garland? (The Culver Studio's main building is the columned mansion seen in the Selznick opening credits of Gone With the Wind).

On Wednesday, we drove to South Pasadena and Book 'Em Mysteries, where we met Jean, the indefatigable and fabulous Chair of the upcoming Left Coast Crime conference, and signed copies of City of Dragons. Afterward a great visit and some good Mexican food across the street, it was onward to Pasadena and Vroman's, where I got all goose-bumply seeing City on the IndieNext Wall and the New and Noteworthy front table!

Next, we drove to our "neighborhood" Barnes and Noble in Marina del Rey (close to Culver City) and signed stock. And from there, I enjoyed the rather surreal experience of seeing my book on the New Arrivals table at the gigantic theme-park like Barnes and Noble in The Grove, near the Farmer's Market and the Miracle Mile in Los Angeles. Posters advertising upcoming signings for Raquel Welch and Melissa Rivers, etc. were all over the place, and the whole thing was, well ... very Hollywood ... in a retail Disneyland sort of way. ;)

Thursday was wonderful--I had a signing at Mysteries to Die For, in lovely Thousand Oaks, and seeing Alan at this wonderful store is always a treat! Another treat was the tea room/cafe/chocolatier across the street--Chocolatine. Owned and operated by French chef Hugo, this was some of the best quiche -- and best chocolate! -- I've ever had. If you're ever in Thousand Oaks, shop at Alan's and try the chocolate! :)

Later in the evening, we capped off the LA tour with a heartwarming event at the marvelous Mystery Bookstore!! I love the staff--Linda, Bobby, Ingrid and Emily--and friends came out to officially welcome me to the City of Angels. Angels themselves (though of the crime fiction writing devilish kind), Brett Battles, Sue Ann Jaffarian, Eric Stone and Holly West reminded me why this is the best business to be in -- it's the company you keep! :) Thanks, guys!!

This morning, we headed down to San Diego, stopping at a just reopened very swanky restaurant in Oceanside called The Flying Bridge. And when I say swanky, I mean swanky--the architecture looks like Frank, Dean and Sammy could've eaten lunch here on the way to the track at Del Mar.

The food was delicious, the service superb (ask for Summer--she's a great waitress!) and all in all, I highly recommend it.

So that's the LA rap-up--next blog will be our San Diego sojourn and next stop will be Scottsdale and the fabulous Poisoned Pen bookstore! Thanks for reading!