Tuesday, June 23, 2009

For the Love of Chrysler ...

I'm a big believer in serendipity. You know, those chance encounters and opportunities that come your way and (as long as you're not actually starring in a noir) can lead to fabulous fun.

As a writer, I like to let serendipity guide me sometimes, through plot points and character development ... and this weekend, a bit of research fell into my life the same way.

I was in Tiburon Saturday--one of Marin County's most beautiful towns--visiting my brilliant and wonderful agent. And it just so happens that Tiburon was hosting a one day Classic Auto festival at the same time.

Now, I love classic cars--you know, when American cars were truly special, built to last, and featured rumble seats or (a bit later) some truly amazing fin work.
These cars are wonders of engineering, and at the Tiburon show, many were
lovingly restored or sported full ownership histories posted on the window.

An event like this gives me the chance to really develop a feel for a period car model--a tremendous research opportunity for my 1940 series ...

I'm not in Tiburon very often, but last year, when I was writing CITY OF DRAGONS, I happened to stumble in to Tiburon on another warm day. And--you guessed it--they were hosting the very same car show. The odds of me being in Tiburon on the day they host a day-long annual car show--twice, in consecutive years--well, that's just serendipity for you.

Of course, inspiration struck. I'll be starting the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS very soon, and it was both lucky and wonderful, lighting upon the chance to see

a glorious 1940 Packard Station Wagon (Wood Sides)

Or a 1940 Cadillac Convertible

Or Gertie, a 1939 Chevrolet "Master Deluxe Business Coupe"

Or a 1934 Pontiac

... or even a 1918 Pierce Arrow.

What car was my favorite? Well, I love the rumble seated 1934 Pontiac ...

but I liked the idea of driving this 1967 Jaguar convertible.

In a word ... classic. And serendipitous!! :)

BTW, we launched Criminal Minds, our group blog and virtual panel, last week--and traffic has been brisk! Come by and comment in the month of June, and you could win a $50 Independent Mystery Booksellers Association member gift certificate, a $50 Barnes and Noble, and signed copies of our books! I post on Thursdays.

Back soon, with photos of San Juan Bautista ... and a talk about Vertigo.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cover Love

It's been an eventful few days! Ever feel like the days pass too quickly for you to grab--that they blend and weave, and before you know it a week has gone ahead of you? Yup. Just happened to me. Here's why:

Last week, I finished revisions to MALEDICTUS, and the manuscript is now with my wonderful agent. First step on the road to seeing my first series picked up and moving ahead--complete!

I posted my first Noir Bar column for Pop Syndicate ... on Gilda, naturally. Who wouldn't want to launch a project with Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford? I'll be writing these columns once a month, and liberally sprinkling Writing in the Dark with a few noir reviews, too.

Thursday was my birthday. According to astrologers, this is a "Solar Return" year--the sun was in the same spot in the sky as it was when I was born (lo, those many years ago!). My mom visited; we took a trip in pilgrimage down to San Juan Bautista and its mission, where Hitchcock filmed Vertigo. I'll post pictures from the trip in a later post on why Jimmy Stewart's character is so creepy.

What else? Ate garlic ice cream in Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World. Yeah, I know it's weird, but what else are you going to do on a warm June day in Gilroy? We ate fresh farm cherries, too, Ranier and Bing, and bought a pack of the largest, freshest and most delicious strawberries I've ever tasted ... organic and locally grown in Watsonville.

These are a few of the reasons I live in California ... the produce can be worth the insanity. ;)

Took a trip to Chinatown, shot some photos for the new website, which is coming very soon. I can't wait!

We launched a grog--that's a group blog, but you already knew that--on Monday. Criminal Minds is a brainchild (actually a dreamchild) of mine, and it's really special to see it come to fruition and so successfully. But with a lineup that includes CJ Lyons, Rebecca Cantrell, Sophie Littlefield, Shane Gericke, Tim Maleeny and Gabriella Herkert, you know it will be fun, fascinating and never a dull moment. :) Check us out--I post on Thursdays (it's the Thursday Child thing).

Today, Becky Cantrell and I were visiting authors over on the fabulous Barnes and Noble Mystery Book Club. You can check out the conversation and see how we harass one another. ;)

Last--but not certainly not least--I received my CITY OF DRAGONS cover yesterday ...


It's sublime--haunting--beautiful. Thrilling!! All the things I want my book to be.

David Rotstein is a Senior Art Director at St. Martin's and a design genius. He's nominated three times over for an Anthony this year, and the breadth and depth of his work is amazing. I feel like I've won the Lotto, or beat James Bond at baccarat! Like I made a movie, and got Saul Bass to do the titles. I'm just humbled by this gorgeous, gorgeous work, and dancing the happy dance of cover love. :)

What's next? Preparation for Thrillerfest in NYC, where I'll be a Panel Master with a great team and a great topic: Now What? Keeping Readers Turning the Pages. The panelists are James Scott Bell, Robert Ellis, Heywood Gould, Steven James and Charlie Newton.

Much work ahead on the website. New postcards, new bookmarks. Preparation for a Litquake Fundraiser in San Francisco later in July that's going to be a lot of fun!

And always back to the cover. I stare ... and I smile. Louise Ure, one of the wisest women I know (and a supreme talent in crime fiction), is so right--a cover like this makes you want to get everything color coordinated. Figure on seeing me in some gorgeous browns and warm tones next year, with a splash of red!

Meanwhile ... have a wonderful week, and as always ... thanks for reading! :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This is late and will be briefer than normal ... especially for me ... but for all good reasons!
I'm on several deadlines at the moment, leading up to Thrillerfest in New York. I've been running so hard, I'm getting flashbacks of Marathon Man and Logan's Run! (Reminds me ... I've got to make a dentist appointment).

So not much time left over for anything interesting, and I didn't think zzzz made for a good blog post. ;)

I'm also not writing much in the Dark this week because I've been working hard over a grog dream come true! No, silly, not the grog you drink, the grog you band together to save the world with! No, wait, that's the Justice League. Well, a group blog, anyway ... and I literally dreamed of it about a year ago. 

It's a very special grog ... more like a virtual conference panel! Seven crime fiction authors in a variety of subgenres will be answering questions every week about all kinds of things--the writing process, crime, life, etc. We hope YOU will send us in questions you would like to read ruminations about! 

We call it Criminal Minds, and we're launching on June 15th. Next week, you'll be able to read about us and find out just how criminal our minds are. Then the 15th starts the panel rolling, with a new question to follow every week.

We're also giving away prizes for the first month--signed books, gift certificates. So if you're a fan of Writing in the Dark, please stop by!

I'll also be appearing soon at Pop Syndicate, a terrific website about everything pop culture. Pony up to the Noir Bar, my monthly column ... we'll be dishing about--what else? film noir. Gilda, my personal favorite, is what we start with. Over virtual cocktails, too! I'll still post noir reviews at Writing in the Dark when the mood strikes, and Pop Syndicate will give me the chance to wax eloquent in a comfortable speakeasy setting. No such thing as too much noir!

So I'll see you next week ... gotta go finish that marathon! And thanks for reading! :)