Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Germ: Guest Post by Lisa Unger

Lisa Unger is the New York Times and internationally bestselling, award-winning author of fifteen novels, including THE RED HUNTER (launches today from Touchstone) and INK AND BONE (2016 Goodreads Choice Award Finalist.) Her books are published in twenty-six languages worldwide, have sold millions of copies and have been named “Best of the Year” or top picks by the Today show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon.com, Independent Booksellers, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel to name a few. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure  Magazine. Lisa Unger lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.

Lisa Unger:
The Germ

The idea for a novel or a character can come from anywhere – a conversation, a line of poetry, a news story or even a piece of junk mail. An idea, a spark, maybe. But really it’s more like a germ, something that gets into your system and takes hold, doesn’t go away. It stays, coughs up when you least expect it, onto the page. Sometimes the germ travels through your blood for years until finally the symptoms present themselves.

I caught the germ for THE RED HUNTER more than fifteen years ago. Actually… it’s closer to twenty, though that seems an embarrassingly long time to have an idea, or the shade of an idea. I was in my late twenties, in a dark place, when I discovered the martial arts. I had just come through a brutal break up, my dreams of writing lay fallow. I was disconnected from myself in almost every way. The martial arts changed me, introducing me to a new version of myself, someone stronger than I thought I could ever be. That place and moment in my life was the germ for THE RED HUNTER, and for one if its main characters, Zoey Drake: a victim turned fighter, someone looking for revenge.

Many, many years later, my husband and I gutted and renovated our 1968 home. Let’s be clear: we hired someone to do this work. (We’re not crazy!) But we lived in the house while it was under reconstruction. (Okay, we’re a little crazy.)  It was cathartic to watch our home, a place we’d loved for more than a decade, torn down to the studs, and recreated as something new and uniquely ours. But it was also stressful, unpredictable, and incredibly challenging. It was not an experience I planned to write about; rather one I swore I wouldn’t repeat and tried to forget. But then, three years later, as I started on THE RED HUNTER, another major voice in the book, Claudia Bishop, emerges. Guess what? She’s renovating a ramshackle old farm house. And she’s blogging about it, a way of moving forward from the trauma of her past, and recreating her future. Another germ, an intense experience that hung on, maybe waiting until my resistance was low.

Sometimes ideas are like food poisoning, coming on strong and undeniably. The germ for BEAUTIFUL LIES came from a piece of junk mail, and I was writing that story within hours.  But more often ideas lay dormant, waiting for their rightful place in my fictional world. I was speaking on stage with some other authors, and I was describing the inspiration for a character named Emily in HEARTBROKEN. I was pregnant and had an encounter with a troubled woman in a grocery store, which almost led to a car accident. “But your daughter is five,” one of the authors, a friend of mine, said. It took me by surprise; it was true. It took nearly six years for Emily to find her way onto the page. The idea for HEARTBROKEN came from a family trip to an island that same year, but the germ for Emily took hold long before.

The desire to write is a congenital condition (for more on this read: http://lisaunger.com/2008/03/disease/), and I mean this in the best possible way. Writers are born, not made. Likewise, ideas, if they find the right conditions, can take hold and move through your blood. Maybe they present themselves quickly, maybe they linger waiting for their opportunity to flourish. I’m not looking for a cure.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Line-Ups in Hollywood

From the amazing Rhymes with Orange:


The Culinary Joys of Burgundy in Winter: Guest Post by Susan Shea

Susan Shea spent more than two decades as a non-profit executive before beginning her critically praised mystery series featuring a professional fundraiser for a fictional museum. The first in her French village seriesLove & Death in Burgundy (St. Martin’s Minotaur Books) debuts next month. She’s a regular on 7 Criminal Minds blog, is secretary of the national Sisters in Crime board, on the board of the Northern California chapter of Sisters in Crime and is a member of Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Marin County, California.

Susan Shea:
The Culinary Joys of Burgundy in Winter 

So many authors write well about France and the French – Cara Black, Martin Walker, Fred Vargas - well, she’s French, so she should - and more. But no one else that I know of is writing about the pastoral areas of Burgundy where wheat and rapeseed are as common as wine grapes (thanks, I have been told, to a nasty epidemic of phylloxera some time ago) and where white cattle decorate green fields and red poppies dot the sides of the road in season.

Burgundy has long, cold winters and I have a hunch that’s when some of the region’s signature dishes were developed. After all, if it’s just above freezing, rainy, and the clouds are too low to see the ramparts of the nearest chateau over the soft, rolling hills, what else is there to do but bake gougeres, set a pot of wine-enriched boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin to simmer on the back burner, and roll out a crust and slice apples for a tarte tat in?

I spent eight wet days in a small town in Burgundy last December, researching seasonal foods and activities for the second in my French village mysteries. I know you roll your eyes and say, “Poor you, eight days in France,” but I was cold all the time and the constant rain didn’t support sightseeing. I learned so much that was useful, however: The people in small towns do nothing like our gaudy Christmas decorations and retail promotions. Chocolate and marzipan are the celebratory holiday treats. The churches are dark and silent, their ancient stone walls radiating cold. A few red-cheeked farmers maintain outdoor stalls with cabbages, celery root, potatoes, and fat, white carrots. The biggest market display I saw included imported oranges (Morocco), kiwi (Spain, my notes say), and lettuce that came, perhaps, from hothouses.

As always, cheeses are king. A vendor I remember from summer visits greeted me like a as he raised the side panel of his truck to display what must have been 100 varieties of cow, goat, and sheep cheese, from pretty to downright dangerous looking.


Near the square in Avallon where he’s parked this morning is a small store that advertises “only local cheese” and there I discover a new one to me: little gray mold cheeses in the shapes of pyramids from Vezelay – delicious if you like your cheese with lots of flavor.


Desserts everywhere in France are the most beautiful, the most tempting, the most elegantly conceived treats, but you knew that. I can close my eyes and point and I know I’ll love whatever it turns out to be.


In the spirit of Janet’s chocolate worship, I am enclosing a recipe for a bittersweet chocolate tart that I got from the web site of a chef in Burgundy. Funny thing: He’s an American!

Bon appetit, mes amis!
***

Recipe from burgundytoday.com, and the American, French-trained chef Bob Chambers 

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TART 
Makes a 23 cm (9 inch) tart

FOR THE PASTRY SHELL
• 1 plump vanilla bean
• 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
• 60 gm ( 1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
• 2 Tbsp whole blanched almonds
• 100 gm (3/4 cup) plain flour, sifted
• Pinch of salt
• 70 gm (5 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

FOR THE FILLING
• 3/4 cup double cream
• a third of a cup of milk
• 200 gm (7oz.) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 50 gm (5 Tbsp) chopped orange peel, optional
• 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder for sifting 


TO MAKE THE PASTRY SHELL

Flatten the vanilla bean and cut it in half lengthwise. With a small spoon, scrape the seeds into a small bowl. Add the egg yolks and stir to blend. In a food processor, combine the sugar and almonds and process until the nuts are finely ground. Add the flour and salt and process to blend. Add the butter and process just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolks and pulse until the dough just about begins to hold together; do not over process – the dough should not form a ball. Gently pat the dough into a disc, handling it as little as possible. Wrap dough in wax paper and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hr or overnight.

Butter the bottom and side of a 23 cm (9in) fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 28 cm (11in) round. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and gently press the dough against the side, allowing about 1 cm (½ in) to hang over the rim. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. 
Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hr.

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F. Set the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 5 mins, just until the pastry begins to firm up. Remove from the oven and, with a sharp knife, carefully cut off and discard the overhanging pastry to make a smooth, even rim. Return the shell to the oven and bake for about 15- 20 mins longer until the pastry is well browned all over.

Transfer to a rack and let cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.

TO MAKE THE FILLING

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and milk to a simmer. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Let cool to lukewarm, then whisk in the egg until thoroughly blended. Stir in the candid orange peel.

Pour the custard into the pastry shell and bake in the middle of the oven for 12 to 15 mins, or until the filling is almost set but still trembling in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sift the cocoa powder over the tart and serve warm or at room temperature. It is also delicious served chilled.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Self Help Books


Los Angeles Times Book Prize: Best Mystery/Thriller

The Los Angeles Time Book Prizes were announced on Friday night, kicking off the LA Times Festival of Books

Bill Beverly won for Dodgers (Crown) in the Best MysteryThriller category.

Also nominated in the Best Mystery/Thriller category
His Bloody Project: Documents Relating to the Case of Roderick Macrae by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Skyhorse)
The Girls by Emma Cline (Random House)
The North Water by Ian McGuire (Henry Holt
Darktown by Thomas Mullen (37 Ink/Atria Books).

Hat Tip: TheRapSheet

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: A Tempted Murder

Hat Tip: Jayna Monroe

Environmental Mysteries: Earth Day 2017

Earth Day 2017

This is an updated Earth Day/Environmental Mysteries list that is by no means complete. There are many more authors, and certainly more books by many of the authors on the list. As always, I welcome additions. I took a few liberties on the list, too, but I think they all fall under the umbrella of environmental mysteries. Scroll down for a second list that deals exclusively with Drowned Towns aka Reservoir Noir.

Mystery Readers Journal had an issue on Environmental Mysteries. It's available as both a PDF and hardcopy. This is a great source for more titles.

Be kind to the Earth. It's the only one we have.

ENVIRONMENTAL/ECOLOGICAL MYSTERIES

Edward Abbey's The Monkey Wrench Gang' Hayduke Lives!
Liz Adair's Snakewater Affair
Glyyn Marsh Alam's Cold Water Corpse; Bilge Water Bones
Grace Alexander's Hegemon
Suzanne Arruda's Stalking Ivory
Sarah Andrews' Em Hansen Mystery series
Lindsay Arthur's The Litigators
Anna Ashwood-Collins' Deadly Resolution
Sandi Ault's Wild Inferno, Wild Indigo, Wild Penance, Wild Sorrow
Shannon Baker's Tainted Mountain, Broken Trust, Tattered Legacy
J. G. Ballard's Rushing to Paradise
Michael Barbour's The Kenai Catastrophe and Blue Water, Blue Island
Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat, Ill Wind, Borderline, and others
Lee Barwood's A Dream of Drowned Hollow?
Pamela Beason's Sam Westin wildlife biologist series
Robert P. Bennett's Blind Traveler's Blues
William Bernhardt's Silent Justice
Donald J Bingle's GreensWord
Michael Black's A Killing Frost 
Jennifer Blake's Shameless
C J Box's Winterkill, Open Season, Below Zero, Savage Run, Out of Range, Trophy Hunt, Free Fire, In Plain Sight
Alex Brett's Dead Water Creek
Rex Burns' Endangered Species
Robin Cook's Fever
Donna Cousins' Landscape
Ann Cleeves' Another Man's Poison
Eileen Charbonneau Waltzing in Ragtime
Michael Crichton's State of Fear
James Crumley's Dancing Bear
Janet Dawson's Don't Turn Your Back on the Ocean
Barbara Delinsky's Looking for Peyton Place
Lionel Derrick's Death Ray Terror
William Deverell's April Fool
Karen Dionne's Boiling Point; Freezing Point
Paul Doiron's The Poacher's Son, Trespasser, Bad Little Falls, The Bone Orchard and others
David Michael Donovan's Evil Down in the Alley
Rubin Douglas' The Wise Pelican: From the Cradle to the Grave
Jack Du Brul's Vulcan's Forge, River of Ruin, and others
Kerstin Ekman's Blackwater
Aaron J Elkins' The Dark Place, Unnatural Selection
Howard Engle's Dead and Buried
Eric Evans' Endangered
Nancy Fairbanks's Acid Bath, Hunting Game and others
G M Ford's Who in Hell is Wanda Fuca?
Clare Francis's The Killing Winds (Requiem)
Jean Craighead George's The Missing 'Gator of Gumbo Limbo, Who Really Killed cock Robin? The Case of the Missing Cutthroats (young readers)
Matthew Glass' Ultimatum
Kenneth Goddard's Double Blind, Prey, Wildfire
Steven Gould and Laura J. Mixon's Greenwar
Robert O. Greer's The Devil's Hatband
John Grisham's The Pelican Brief, The Appeal
Jean Hager's Ravenmocker
William Hagard's The Vendettists
James W. Hall's Bones of Coral
Patricia Hall's The Poison Pool
Joseph Hall's Nightwork
Karen Hall's Unreasonable Risk, Through Dark Spaces
Matt Hammond's Milkshake
Sue Henry's Termination Dust
Robert Herring's McCampbell's War
Joseph Heywood's Blue Wolf in Green Fire, Ice Hunter, Chasing a Blond Moon
Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip, Stormy Weather, Sick Puppy, Strip Tease, Scat
Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady
John Hockenberry's A River out of Eden
Peter Hoeg's Smilla's Sense of Snow
John Holt's Hunted
Dave Hugelschaffer's Day into Night, One Careless Moment
Judy Hughes' The Snowmobile Kidnapping
Mary Ellen Hughes' A Taste of Death
Dana Andrew Jennings' Lonesome Standard Time
Linda Kistler's Cause for Concern
Lisa Kleinholz's Dancing with Mr. D. 
Bill Knox's The Scavengers, Devilweed, and others in the Webb Carrick series
Dean Koontz's Icebound
William Kent Krueger's "Cork O'Connor" series
Janice Law's Infected be the Air
Stephen Legault's The Darkening Archipelago
Donna Leon's Death in a Strange Country, About Face
David Liss' The Ethical Assassin
Sam Llewellyn's Deadeye
Robert Lopresti's Greenfellas
Jim Lynch's The Highest Tide
John D MacDonald's Barrier Island (and other titles)
Ross Macdonald's Sleeping Beauty
Jassy Mackenzie's The Fallen
Larry Maness' Once a Perfect Place
Elizabeth Manz's Wasted Space
Margaret Maron's High Country Fall, Shooting at Loons, Up Jumps the Devil, Hard Row
John Martel's Partners
Steve Martini's Critical Mass
John McGoran's Drift, Deadout, Dust Up
Karin McQuillan's Deadly Safari, Cheetah Chase, Elephant's Graveyard
Anne Metikosh's Undercurrent 
Deon Meyer's Blood Safari, Thirteen Hours
Kirk Mitchell's High Desert Malice, Deep Valley Malice
Skye Kathleen Moody's Blue Poppy, and other Venus Diamond mysteries
C. George Muller's Echoes in the Blue
Marcia Muller's Cape Perdido
Judith Newton's Oink
Michael Norman's Skeleton Picnic
Dan O'Brien's Brendan Prairie
Michael Palmer's Fatal
Sara Paretsky's Blood Shot
T. Jefferson's Parker's Pacific Beat
Cathy Pickens' Southern Fried
Carl Posey's Bushmaster Fall
David Poyer's As the Wolf Loves Winter, Winter in the Heart
Katherine Prairie's Thirst
Bob Reiss's Purgatory Road
Ruth Rendell's Road Rage 
Geoffrey Robert's The Alo Release
Rebecca Rothenberg's The Shy Tulip Murders
Patricia Rushford's Red Sky in the Mourning
Alan Russell's The Forest Prime Evil 
Kirk Russell's Shell Games
Frank Schätzing's The Swarm
Barry Siegel's Actual Innocence
Sheila Simonson's An Old Chaos 
Jessica Speart's Bird Brained, Blue Twilight, Gator Aide, Tortoise Soup
Dana Stabenow's A Cold Day for Murder, A Deeper Sleep, A Fine and Bitter Snow, Midnight Come Again, A Taint in the Blood, and many others
John Stanley's The Woman Who Married a Bear, The Curious Eat Themselves, 
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac: The Eco-Thriller
Mark Stevens' Buried by the Roan 
David Sundstrand's Shadow of the Raven
William Tapply's Cutter's Run
Peter Temple's The Broken Shore
Craig Thomas's A Wild Justice 
Judith Van Gleson's "Neil Hamel" series
David Rains Wallace's The Turquoise Dragon
Lee Wallingford's Clear-Cut Murder
Joseph Wambaugh's Finnegan's Week
Sterling Watson's Deadly Sweet
Betty Webb's Desert Wind 
Randy Wayne White's White Captiva
Robert Wilson's Blood is Dirt
K.J.A. Wishnia's The Glass Factory

Reservoir Noir
Crime Fiction that deals with intentional flooding of towns and villages because of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, irrigation, power and other reasons--a sad addition to the environmental crime fiction list.

Alan Dipper's Drowning Day
Eileen Dunlop's Valley of the Deer (YA)
Lee Harris's Christening Day Murder
Reginald Hill's On Beulah Height
Donald James' Walking the Shadows
James D. Landis' The Talking (Artist of the Beautiful)
Jane Langton's Emily Dickenson is Dead
Julia Wallis Martin's A Likeness in Stone
Sharyn McCrumb's Zombies of the Gene Pool
Michael Miano's The Dead of Summer
Ron Rash's One Foot in Eden
Rick Riordan's The Devil Went Down to Austin
Peter Robinson's In a Dry Season
Lisa See's Dragon Bones
Paul Somers' Broken Jigsaw
Julia Spencer-Fleming's Out of the Deep I Cry
Donald Westlake's Drowned Hopes
John Morgan Wilson's Rhapsody in Blood
Stuart Woods's Under the Lake

Let me know any other titles you think should be included.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlist

Crime Writers of Canada announced the shortlists for the 2017 Arthur Ellis Awards for Excellence in Canadian Crime Writing.

Best Novel 
Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost, Penguin Random House of Canada
Michael Helm, After James, McClelland & Stewart
Maureen Jennings, Dead Ground in Between, McClelland & Stewart
Janet Kellough, Wishful Seeing, Dundurn Press
Donna Morrissey, The Fortunate Brother, Viking Canada

Best First Novel sponsored by Kobo 
Ryan Aldred, Rum Luck, Five Star Publishing
R.M.Greenaway, Cold Girl, Dundurn Press
Mark Lisac, Where the Bodies Lie, NeWest Press
Amy Stuart, Still Mine, Simon & Schuster Canada
Elle Wild, Strange Things Done, Dundurn Press

Best Novella: The Lou Allin Memorial Award 
Rick Blechta, Rundown, Orca Book Publishers
Brenda Chapman, No Trace, Grass Roots Press
Jas. R. Petrin, The Devil You Know, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Dell Publishing
Linda L. Richards, When Blood Lies, Orca Book Publishers
Peter Robinson, The Village That Lost Its Head, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Dell Publishing

Best Short Story 
Cathy Ace, Steve’s Story, The Whole She-Bang 3, Toronto Sisters in Crime
Susan Daly, A Death at the Parsonage, The Whole She-Bang 3, Toronto Sisters in Crime
Elizabeth Hosang, Where There’s a Will, The Whole She-Bang 3, Toronto Sisters in Crime
Scott Mackay, The Ascent, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Dell Publishing
David Morrell, The Granite Kitchen, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Dell Publishing

Best Book in French 
Marie-Eve Bourassa, Red Light: Adieu, Mignonne, Groupe Ville-Marie Littérature, vlb éditions
Chrystine Brouillet, Vrai ou faux, Éditions Druide
Guillaume Morrissette, Terreur domestique, Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur
Johanne Seymour, Rinzen et l’homme perdu, Libre Expression
Richard Ste-Marie, Le Blues des sacrifiés, Éditions Alire

Best Juvenile/YA Book 
Gordon Korman, Masterminds: Criminal Destiny, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.
Nora McClintock, Trial by Fire, Orca Book Publishers
John Moss, The Girl in a Coma, The Poisoned Pencil-Poisoned Pen Press
Caroline Pignat, Shooter, Tundra Books
Eva Wiseman, Another Me, Tundra Books

Best Nonfiction Book 
Christie Blatchford, Life Sentence: Stories from Four Decades of Court Reporting — or, How I Fell Out of Love with the Canadian Justice System, Doubleday Canada
Joe Friesen, The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw, Signal McClelland & Stewart
Jeremy Grimaldi, A Daughter's Deadly Deception: The Jennifer Pan Story, Dundurn Press
Debra Komar, Black River Road: An Unthinkable Crime, an Unlikely Suspect, and the Question of Character, Goose Lane
Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon, Shadow of Doubt: The Trial of Dennis Oland, Goose Lane

Unhanged Arthur for Best Unpublished First Crime Novel sponsored by Dundurn Press 
Mary Fernando, An Absence of Empathy
S.J. Jennings, The Golkonda Project
Charlotte Morganti, Concrete Becomes Her
Ann Shortell, Celtic Knot
Mark Thomas, The Last Dragon

CWC announces the 2017 Derrick Murdoch Award recipient Christina Jennings. The Derrick Murdoch Award is a special achievement award for contributions to the crime genre. This year's recipient is Christina Jennings, founder, Chairman and CEO of Shaftesbury Films. She has won a number of awards, including Genies, Geminis and Canadian Screen Awards, among several other nominations and accolades throughout her career.

Christina founded Shaftesbury Films in 1987 as a feature film company. She has produced movies and television series based upon the work of several Arthur Ellis Award-winning Canadian crime writers including the late novelist and playwright Timothy Findlay (External Affairs), novelists Gail Bowen (the Joanna Kilbourn TV movies) and Maureen Jennings (Murdoch Mysteries), as well as historian Marjorie Freeman Campbell (Torso).

About Crime Writers of Canada Crime Writers of Canada was founded in 1982 as a professional organization designed to raise the profile of Canadian crime writers from coast to coast. Our members include authors, publishers, editors, booksellers, librarians, reviewers, and literary agents as well as many developing authors. 

For more info about the Arthur Ellis Awards and the shortlists, or for contact information about the finalists, contact Arthur Ellis Awards Administrator Alison Bruce, at arthur_ellis@crimewriterscanada.com.

Library Poster of the Day


Chautauqua Prize 2017 Finalists

Chautauqua Institution announced the 2017 finalists for The Chautauqua Prize, now in its sixth year:

The General vs. The President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War, by H.W. Brands (Doubleday)
The Fortunes, by Peter Ho Davies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Blood River Rising: The Thompson-Crimson Feud of the 1920s, by Victoria Pope Hubbell (Iris Press)
Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters (Mulholland Books)
American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good, by Colin Woodard (Viking)
The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father, by Kao Kalia Yang (Metropolitan Books)

The winning book will be selected from this shortlist and announced in mid-May.

Awarded annually since 2012, The Chautauqua Prize draws upon Chautauqua Institution’s considerable literary legacy to celebrate a book that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and to honor the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts. The author of the winning book will receive $7,500 and all travel and expenses for a one-week summer residency at Chautauqua. For more information, visit ciweb.org/prize.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

And Now For Something Completely Different: Guest Post by Jeffery Deaver

Jeffery Deaver is the #1 international bestselling author of more than thirty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into 25 languages. He's received or been shortlisted for many major awards around the world. A former journalist, folksinger, and attorney, he was born outside of Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University. 

I love that Jeff decided to write "Something Completely Different for this post, and I can't wait to make his Mushroom Asparagus Risotto. Thanks, Jeff!

Jeffery Deaver:
And Now for Something Completely Different

Okay, yes, I write sick and twisted thrillers. But let’s go to an even scarier side. Let’s talk food.

My latest book from Grand Central Publishing is The Burial Hour, the thirteenth in the Lincoln Rhyme series (which began with The Bone Collector). While most of my novels don’t involve much discussion of food (who has time to eat when you’re chasing psychotic killers and terrorists?), The Burial Hour does. Why? Because it’s set in Italy.

Say no more.

There are several scenes in which food figures prominently in the story. Amelia Sachs and a young Italian policeman make some vital discoveries after lunching in the countryside near Naples. Important clues related to North African food are discovered near a refugee camp. And a tense negotiation ends with a farm-to-table meal, accompanied, as it must be, by a fine Campanian wine (molto forte, or, as Lincoln Rhyme would say with approval: “Damn strong!).

It was a hard job to research these--and other--dishes that I describe in the book but somebody had to do it. And I feel I acquitted myself admirably (and will soon start making daily trips to the health club to eliminate the evidence of my efforts).

So, what’s the scary part?

I thought I might share with you an Italian recipe of my own creation.

Jeffery Deaver’s Mushroom Asparagus Risotto 

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course.

 Ingredients: 
1 medium onion, chopped.
1 pound green asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces (discard the bottom 1 ½ inches from each stalk).
4 Portobello mushroom caps, cut in half, then into thin slices.
2 cups arborio rice.
3/4 cup dry white wine.
6 cups chicken stock.
6 tablespoons butter.
Olive oil for sautéing.
Pinch of nutmeg.
Salt and pepper.

Directions:
1. Heat the chicken stock in pan to simmer, then reduce heat.
2. In a large skillet, sauté the asparagus in olive oil quickly--one minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add more oil and sauté the onion and mushroom caps until soft.
4. Leaving the onions and mushroom caps in the skillet, add the rice and stir for 3-4 minutes.
5. Add the wine and stir constantly until most of the liquid evaporates.
6. Add the chicken stock one cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is incorporated into the rice. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
7. When the mixture is uniform and creamy, stir in the asparagus, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook for two minutes.
8. Off the heat. Stir in the butter and let stand for five minutes before serving.
9. Garnish with parsley (Italian, of course).

I like to pair this with a Veneto chardonnay or a gruner veltliner, from Austria.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Library Poster of the Day

Interesting Library Poster from the Leeds Library in the UK. What do you think? Certainly got my attention.




Back in the High Life Again: Guest post by Robert Greer

Robert Greer, M.D. is the author of thirteen novels. He is best known for his mysteries featuring African American, Denver-based bail bondsman and bounty hunter, CJ Floyd. In February, Mysterious Press re-released most of the CJ Floyd backlist in handsomely redesigned e-books. His forthcoming CJ Floyd novel is CHUGWATER BLUES. Some people take time off from their day job to tour the continent, bike across Europe, travel the middle passage, or perhaps attempt to visit every baseball stadium, national park, or major city in the US. Others simply take off. A few, like Robert Greer, take time off from their night job (writing novels) to finish a day job project. 

ROBERT GREER:
BACK IN THE HIGH LIFE AGAIN 

For four decades and counting, I have had a day job that can be pretty all consuming. Unlike Alan Alda, in his current TV Doctors of America public service promo for healthcare, for over forty years I have had the privilege of playing doctor for real. To make matters worse, or better, depending on how you look at it, I’ve played that role in an academic medical setting.

So, when my day job publisher, Cambridge University Press, suggested that it was time for me to rewrite one of my pathology textbooks, and made me a kind of Marlon Brando, Godfather “academic medicine” offer I couldn’t refuse, what could I possibly do? Their offer wasn’t an artistically incentivized one, the kind that might come with my night job, and it certainly wasn’t greatly monetarily incentivized (you don’t get paid much for writing medical textbooks). The offer was instead bolstered by the old academic saw, “publish or perish.” However, after 159 scientific publications and three medical textbooks, I am at the stage in my medical career where that old saw doesn’t mean very much. So I initially shrugged their offer off. However, some of the faculty members in my department, immensely talented individuals and also valued prior contributors to the textbook, are not at the same point in their careers. So with that in mind, you might say the game was afoot.

Now, three and a half years, 2,000 manuscript pages and 1,500 illustrations later, as Steve Winwood so aptly put it in his 1986 hit song, “I’m Back in The High Life Again.” Back to novel writing and that night job I so much enjoy and terribly missed. Back to penning the exploits of bail bondsman and bounty hunter, CJ Floyd.

Here’s a little secret that I’ll reveal to you. Well, perhaps it’s not really that much of a secret since I’ve shared it with others. During my three and a half year hiatus from mystery novel writing, I cheated on Cambridge University Press; but only just a little bit. Nine months before my pathology textbook was due to the publisher, I won’t tell you the textbook title, (Google it, if you like), I’d had enough molecular biology, cancer therapeutics, diagnostic paradigm imperatives, disease causation postulates, and rivers of medical jargon coursing through my veins, that I had to find either that rabbit hole Alice climbed into for relief, or drift off into writing Never-Never-Land. So I pulled CJ Floyd off the shelf, dusted off a cadre of his Denver sidekicks, killed off someone, and sent CJ and friends chasing off after the bad guys in my new mystery novel, CHUGWATER BLUES.

In CHUGWATER BLUES, CJ’s partner in his bail bonding business, Desert Storm veteran and former Marine Corp intelligence operative, Flora Jean Benson, is devastated by the recent death of the love of her life, one time Marine Corp General, Alden Grace. Down in the dumps, Flora Jean takes a leave of absence at a remote Wyoming ranch. However, the clandestine world that she and Alden were once a part of catches up to her. Slower than he once was and a bit worse for wear, CJ rushes to help Flora Jean out, drawing himself and his street-smart buddies into a conspiracy that stretches from wind-blown Wyoming to the war torn Middle East.

You can find out what happens to CJ, Flora Jean, and friends in CHUGWATER BLUES, hopefully by year’s end. That’s unless, of course, you’d rather read PEDIATRIC HEAD AND NECK PATHOLOGY. Darn, I didn’t intend to mention that name. Guess it was just a day job slip-up, which I can assure you my friends, is in no way malpractice.

Cartoon of the Day: Tax Day


Monday, April 17, 2017

Meg Gardiner's UNSUB to be CBS TV series

Deadline reports that CBS TV Studios bought the rights to Meg Gardiner's next novel UNSUB about the Zodiac Killer. Unsub isn't even out yet! June 27.. Go, Meg!

CBS Television Studios has pre-emptively bought the rights to Edgar-winning author Meg Gardiner’s forthcoming novel UNSUB, ahead of an auction, to adapt for television. The novel, the first in a series, will be published June 27 by Dutton/Penguin Random House. It will be developed as a TV series by Carl Beverly and Sarah Timberman, who’ll be executive producers through their studio-based Timberman-Beverly Productions banner, along with The Story Factory’s Shane Salerno. The author, who has spent years researching celebrated unsub cases, will also serve as a producer. 

The thriller follows a female detective on the trail of an infamous serial killer – inspired by the still-unsolved Zodiac case – when he breaks his silence and begins killing again. The detective, who grew up watching her father destroy himself and his family chasing the killer, now finds herself facing the same monster. Her work brings her to the attention of the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, where she goes to work hunting other UNSUBs (UNknown SUBjects, a term used for suspects in a criminal investigation) while being tormented by the killer her father never caught.

Cartoon of the Day: IRS


Passport to Murder Anthology!

Bouchercon 2017 announced the authors whose stories will appear in the special Passport to Murder Anthology. Hundreds of authors submitted stories for this International Anthology. Here are the authors, in alphabetical order, who were selected for the Bouchercon 2017 anthology, Passport to Murder. Congratulations to all! 

Passport to Murder will be published on October 12, 2017. The anthology will be available for pre-order in the summer of  2017. Details will be posted on Twitter and Facebook and the Bouchercon website with details as they become available.

· Beckstrom, Eric
· Bracken, Michael
· Buck, Craig Faustus
· Calder, Susan
· Davidson, Hilary
· Dymmoch, Michael
· Floyd, John
· Grabenstein, Chris
· Hannan-Mandel, Marie
· Hutchings, Janet
· Kay, Marilyn
· Kopil, Su
· Mallow, Tanis
· Masterson, LD
· McCracken, Rosemary
· Phillips, Gary
· Pullen, Karen
· Rockwood, KM
· Sanders, Scott Loring
· Simmons, Shawn Reilly
· Stickney, John
· Weisfeld, Victoria

Not registered for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention? It's not too late. Register Here.

Death and Taxes: Tax Day Mysteries

The Tax Man Cometh! I've done several posts over the years about Tax Day Mysteries. Surprisingly there are many that deal with Finance, and high finance at that, but not all that many that deal with about the average Joe filing his taxes on April 15. Surely it's enough to commit murder. So here are a few mysteries that deal specifically with Tax Day.. and at the end of this post, an updated list of several accounting/accountant mysteries. And a reminder--if you haven't filed your taxes yet, be sure and send in for an extension!

Perhaps the most well known Tax Day Mystery is David Dodge's Death and Taxes--an oldie but goodie (1941). It's been reissued. Read Librarian and Editor Randal Brandt's posts on David Dodge HERE and HERE.

San Francisco tax accountant James “Whit” Whitney is summoned home from a vacation in Santa Cruz to help his partner, George MacLeod, recover a hefty tax refund for a beautiful blonde client named Marian Wolff. When he returns to his office, Whit finds MacLeod dead in the firm’s vault, “with a small hole in the bridge of his nose.” In order to complete the tax return and uncover the murderer, Whit becomes a reluctant detective and nearly gets himself killed in the process. To prevent Whit’s murder, if possible, the SFPD assigns him a bodyguard named Swede Larson. Whit and Swede tangle with ex-bootleggers and Telegraph Hill gangsters in their efforts to unravel the mystery, which climaxes with a shootout in the Mission District and a dramatic car chase across the Bay Bridge. Along the way, Whit resists the advances of Marian Wolff and begins a romance with Kitty MacLeod, George’s widow.

Before becoming a novelist, David Dodge worked as a Certified Public Accountant. No wonder his first fictional hero was also a tax man. A notable aspect of the Whitney novels is the volume of information about taxes and finances that Dodge effortlessly weaves into his plots. To read more about David Dodge, go HERE.

Sue Dunlap's 7th Jill Smith mystery is also entitled Death and Taxes

Until someone put a poisoned needle in his bicycle seat, Phil Drem was the meanest, most nit-picking IRS agent in Berkeley, California.

But when Detective Jill Smith began searching Berkeley's backwaters for the tax man's killer, she found a different picture of Drem: a caring Drem, whose once-beautiful wife was "allergic to the world" and whose friends and enemies, old hippies and would-be entrepreneurs, enjoyed a ghoulish pastime called The Death Game. Did the Death Game KO Drem? Was someone's schedule a motive for murder? And what about a CPA who drove a red Lotus ruthlessly and guaranteed his clients they'd never be audited?


Only one thing is for sure, —somewhere in Berkeley's backwaters, a killer is still on the loose. And for a detective who loves her city, doubts her lover, and has a knack for solving the toughest of crimes, finding the truth is about as inevitable as...Death And Taxes.


A continued search revealed another title: A Little Rebellion: April 15 Surprise by Rodney Sexton published by Writers Club Press (2000) an iUniverse book. Not having read it, I thought I'd post the Editorial Review:

After a client’s suicide and an unprecedented IRS attack on his tax practice, Certified Public Accountant Karl Mendel plans what he hopes will be the final solution to an income tax system out of control.

Assisted by close friends and professional associates, Mendel uses a personal tragedy and his belief in American freedom to fuel his war on what he refers to as the American KGB. With flying skills honed as a Marine pilot in the Vietnam War Mendel takes to the air in his planned assault on the U.S. income tax system. Help from Beatrice Gimble, a former IRS programmer and current CPA partner of his best friend, Terry Garcia, leads Karl inside the main computer facility run by the IRS. Unaware that he is being watched by powers beyond the IRS, his “forced” dealings with a Russian “mole” leads Karl and his partners into dangers they had not considered and threatens the woman he loves more than life itself.

About the Author: Rod Sexton is a practicing Certified Public Accountant living near Houston, Texas with his wife. While in Vietnam, Sexton was attached to the First Marine Air Wing. After active duty, he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Taxation degrees. A Little Rebellion is his first work of fiction.

Sure sounds like this fits the bill! Anyone read it? Any comments?

And then there's the cozy tax series that includes Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli by Diane Kelly. This mystery fits with both this blog and my DyingforChocolate.com blog. Diane Kelly's series --Death, Taxes, and ... --are about IRS special Agent Tara Holloway. Can't get more tax-related than that..at least in the U.S. There are 13 books to keep you reading.

A further search for other mysteries uncovered a few other titles maybe a bit further afield but with an accounting theme, so in honor of Tax Day, I thought I'd post a few Accounting-Accountant crime fiction titles.

ACCOUNTING FOR MURDER: A List

Paul Anthony: Old Accountants Never Die
Paul Bennett: Due Diligence, Collateral Damage, False Profits, The Money Race
Ann Bridge: The Numbered Account 
David Dodge: In addition to Death and Taxes, he wrote three more novels about San Francisco tax accountant James "Whit" Whitney: Shear the Black Sheep, Bullets for the Bridegroom and It Ain't Hay.
Marjorie Eccles: Account Rendered and other Stories
Gail Farrelly: Beaned in Boston
Dick Francis: Risk
Kate Gallison: Unbalanced Accounts
John Grisham: Skipping Christmas
Ian Hamilton: The Water Rat of Wanchai 
Carolyn Hart: A Settling of Accounts 
James Montgomery Jackson: Bad Policy
Marshall Jevons: Murder at the Margin, The Fatal Equilibrium, A Deadly Indifference
Emma Lathen: Accounting for Murder
Linda Lovely: Final Accounting
Sharon Potts: In Their Blood
Peter Robinson: Final Account
Karen Hanson Stuyck: Held Accountable
William C. Whitbeck: To Account for Murder
M.K. Wren: Nothing's Certain but Death 
Short Story: "The Ides of Mike Magoon" in Ellery Queen's The Calendar of Crime (written when tax day was March 15, not April 15) 

Anyone have a favorite mystery with a Tax Day theme? Any titles I've missed?
SaveSave

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Crime Novel of the Year: Longlist (Theakston's Peculier Crime Festival)

Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Festival (Harrogate) Novel of the Year Longlist:


Hat Tip: Erin Mitchell

And, if you'd prefer a list to bookcovers:
• Die of Shame, by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown)
• Night School, by Lee Child (Bantam Press)
• Lie With Me, by Sabine Durrant (Mulholland)
• Tastes Like Fear, by Sarah Hilary (Headline)
• The Darkest Secret, by Alex Marwood (Sphere)
• Out of Bounds, by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)
• Even Dogs in the Wild, by Ian Rankin (Orion)
• Birdwatcher, by William Shaw (Riverrun)
• The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware (Harvill Secker)
• Black Widow, by Chris Brookmyre (Little, Brown)
• After You Die, by Eva Dolan (Harvill Secker)
• Real Tigers, by Mick Herron (John Murray)
• The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins, by Antonia Hodgson (Hodder & Stoughton)
• Coffin Road, by Peter May (Riverrun)
• Those We Left Behind, by Stuart Neville (Harvill Secker)
• Murderabilia, by Craig Robertson (Simon & Schuster)
• Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner (Borough Press)
• Stasi Wolf, by David Young (Zaffre)

A shortlist will be announced on May 20. The winner will be announced on July 20 at Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, England.

Cartoon of the Day: Easter Bunny Analysis

Hat Tip: Lia Matera

Peeps Travel the World

Love this! Peeps Travel the World. Be sure to click forward and backward.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Peep Show

Happy Easter!

Finishing Your First Crime Novel: Online Course with Jason Starr

Finishing Your First Crime Novel
An Online Course with Jason Starr
April 17 - May 22, $250

Been kicking around an idea for a crime novel but not sure where to start? 

Always wanted to take a workshop but can’t make it to The Center for Fiction week after week? 

Never fear! 

International bestselling author Jason Starr will help with Finishing Your First Crime Novel, a six session online course starting on April 17th. It’s all the benefits of a regular class with none of the inconvenience: access weekly lectures on your schedule while taking part in an online community of supportive, like-minded writers who love crime fiction as much as you. 

Cartoon of the Day: Gifts for Cats

Happy Caturday!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Lessons from Passover


Happy Passover!

An Award by Any Other Name: Guest post by Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day’s debut mystery, The Black Hour, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, Little Pretty Things, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. Little Pretty Things was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, The Day I Died, was just released by Harper Collins William Morrow on April 11, 2017. She lives in Chicago.

Lori Rader-Day:
An Award by Any Other Name 

When Dana Kaye and I decided to start a new crime fiction conference in the crime-fiction-conference-free zone of Chicago (after Love Is Murder sadly folded in 2016), we had a plan. One track. One room. Lots of great Chicago and Midwestern authors. Stir.

It was a formula that had worked for Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee for thirteen years, so surely it would work for what we named Murder and Mayhem in Chicago.

It did.

Along the way, though, we came up with one way we would be different than our predecessor. Our Chicago-based mystery conference would be home to a new award, given to honor a life’s work of Chicago and Midwestern mystery writing.

We named it the Sara Paretsky Award.

Of course we did.

Admit it. When I say “contemporary Chicago mystery,” Sara comes to mind. Sara Paretsky is the voice of our city and region (and, often, in ways far beyond mystery fiction, of our national conscience). Lucky for many a female crime writer, she used her voice to speak for our gender as the founding mother of Sisters in Crime, now an international organization with approximately 3,800 members, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. We all have a voice, thanks to Sara.

So in its first year, upon whom could we bestow the honor of the Paretsky Award? None other than Sara Paretsky, of course.

Sara was a headliner of the inaugural Murder and Mayhem in Chicago, along with Minnesota’s William Kent Krueger, so she was on hand to learn along with the crowd that the award had been named in her honor and then to graciously receive it. It is among one of the most special moments of my professional life to be able to announce the news with Dana, and to watch Sara’s reaction to the standing ovation she got from our two hundred attendees.

Of course the next question is: who might be the next recipient of such an award? Dana and I are working on ideas that help bring readers into the process and when we have the details worked out, we’ll announce it widely. Because you have ideas, I’m sure, the readers of Mystery Fanfare, which does such a wonderful job of announcing award nominees and winners all mystery-award-year long. 

It is one of the joys of the mystery community to celebrate our exemplary members. Murder and Mayhem in Chicago is pleased to join in. MMC is over until spring 2018, but if you’re interested in Midwestern mayhem, check out our partner-in-crime conference, Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee in November. 

The Paretsky Award awaits another winner. Who else came to mind when I said “contemporary Chicago mystery”?

 Photo Credit: Julia Borcherts

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bloody Words Light Mystery Award aka The Bony Blithe Award Shortlist

Murder Is Nothing to Laugh About...Or Is It?
The Bloody Words Light Mystery Award Announces Finalists


(Toronto, ON) April 13, 2017 – The Bloody Words Light Mystery Award (aka the Bony Blithe Award), an annual Canadian award that celebrates traditional, feel-good mysteries is pleased to announce this year’s finalists. Now in its sixth year, the award is for a “mystery book that makes us smile” and includes everything from laugh-out-loud to gentle humour to good old-fashioned stories with little violence or gore – in short, books that are fun to read.

Congratulations to the five finalists for the 2017 award:

Cathy Ace, The Corpse with the Garnet Face (Touchwood)
Ryan Aldred, Rum Luck (Five Star)
Alan Bradley, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d (Doubleday Canada)
Elizabeth J. Duncan, Murder on the Hour (St. Martin’s Press)
Mike Martin, A Long Ways from Home (Friesen Press)


The award will be presented at the Bony Blithe Mini-con & Award Gala on Friday, May 26, at the High Park Club, 100 Indian Road, Toronto. The festivities run from 11:00 a.m. to 9 p.m. and include lunch, panels and/or round-table discussions, afternoon nibblies, a dealers room, loot bags, and the award banquet where the monarch of merry murder will be crowned. For more information or to buy a ticket for the gala, contact us at event@bonyblithe.com or www.bonyblithe.com

The winner will receive a cheque for $1,000 plus a colourful plaque.

Cartoon of the Day: Easter Egg


Easter Crime Fiction: A List

Even if you don't live in Norway where Paskekrim (Easter Crime Fiction) is a crime fiction Easter Holiday tradition, you can enjoy reading some great mysteries that take place at Easter.  

To find out more about Paskekrim, a Norwegian tradition that takes place over 5 days from Holy Thursday through Easter Monday, when the country is caught up in watching and reading murder mysteries and detective series and publishers bring out their latest crime fiction, click here.

My Easter Crime Fiction list has been expanded from last year, and, as always, I welcome any additions. I've also added some Good Friday mysteries, rounding out the weekend.

EASTER CRIME FICTION/
EASTER MYSTERIES

Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan
Ship of Danger by Mabel Esther Allan
Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton
Death and the Easter Bunny by Linda Berry
In a Gilded Cage by Rhys Bowen
Easter Weekend by David Bottoms
The Last Enemy by Grace Brophy
Wycliffe and the Last Rites by W.J. Burley
Papa la-Bas by John Dickson Carr
Do You Promise Not To Tell? by Mary Jane Clark
Little Easter by Reed Farrel Coleman
A Holiday Sampler by Christine E. Collier
Last Easter by Caroline Conklin
Murder on Good Friday by Sara Conway
Holy Terrors by Mary R. Daheim
Big Bunny Bump Off by Kathi Daley
Death of a Harlequin by Mary-Jane Deeb
The House of Death by Paul Doherty
Cue the Easter Bunny by Liz Evans
Death at the Wheel by Kate Flora
Deadly Sin by P.J. Grady
Precious Blood by Jane Haddam
Chocolat by Joanne Harris
The Good Friday Murder by Lee Harris 
Server Down by J.M. Hayes
Semana Santa by David Hewson
Eggsecutive Orders by Julie Hyzy
Easter Murders by Bryant Jackson & Edward Meadows
Death of a Dumb Bunny by Melanie Jackson
Do Not Exceed the Stated Dose (short stories) by Peter Lovesey
Pagan Spring by G. M. Malliet
Some Like It Lethal by Nancy Martin
Easter Bunny Murder by Leslie Meier
Devil's Door by Sharan Newman
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
The Wolf and the Lamb by Frederick Ramsey
The Baritone Wore Chiffon; The Soprano Wore Falsettos by Mark Schweizer
Easter's Lily by Judy Serrano
Prey on Patmos by Jeffrey Siger
Tourist Trap by Julie Smith
Out of the Deep I Cry by Julia Spencer-Fleming
And Four To Go includes "The Easter Parade" aka The Easter Parade Murder" by Rex Stout
Nickeled-and-Dimed to Death by Denise Swanson
The Quarry by Johan Theorin
Midnight at the Camposanto by Mari Ulmer
The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie
The Blind Man of Seville by Robert Wilson
The Easter Egg Murder by Patricia Smith Wood

Short Story: "The Man on the Cross" by Bill Crider from the collection Thou Shalt Not Kill, edited by Anne Perry."The Rabbit Died" by Sue Ann Jaffarian.

Looking for Easter Chocolate to eat while reading? Stop by my other Blog, DyingforChocolate.com for some great Chocolate Easter Recipes and History and Culture of PEEPS.

Look Magazine, April 16, 1957

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Invasion of Privacy


Book Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail: Guest post by Ovidia Yu

Ovidia Yu was born in, lives in, and writes about Singapore. After a happy childhood spent reading, drawing comics and dramatizing stories, she dropped out of medical school because while medicine is fascinating, she didn’t want to be a doctor. Books: Aunty Lee’s Delights, Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials, Aunty Lee’s Chilled Revenge 
Coming in April: Meddling and Murder (An Aunty Lee Mystery) 
Coming in June: The Frangipani Tree Mystery 

Ovidia Yu: 
Book Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail

No, I’ve never been anywhere near the Pacific Crest Trail. This writing experiment was entirely thanks to a combination of reading Cheryl Strayed's Wild and discovering the Walking4Fun website where one of the walks offered is Pacific Crest Trail.

You see, I put on 3 to 5 pounds per book that pretty much stays on after the writing is finished. Before starting my fourth Aunty Lee book I wanted something to counteract the hours of sitting at the computer with rice crackers and Snickers for company.

I had a Fitbit, but it never did anything more than add to the guilt on days when neither my word count nor step count measured up.

So this time, I signed up for the Pacific Crest Trail on Walking4Fun. I linked my Fitbit and decided I would walk 10,000 steps a day, look up how far this got me (the website has roadmaps, satellite, hybrid and terrain images as well as photos showing where you are) and read the corresponding section in Wild.

At first this was purely to motivate me to get my target steps in each day. It worked too. I set a timer on the computer that reminded me to get up and move around every hour. Previously I’d used my breaks to check email and Facebook. Now I was taking the dogs for a quick walk around the block or hopping onto the rebounder.

And there were surprising benefits. Like when I got into the rhythm, I found my word count went up along with my step count. And after a few weeks I was reaching 10,000 steps most days, just by going for short head clearing walks during work breaks.

There were unexpected writing aids from Wild too. Cheryl Strayed describing stuff she had to dump from ‘Monster’, her massively heavy backpack, made it a little easier to cut the overload of research material (everything from psychological studies of competition between spouses based on birth hierarchy to the history of ghost sightings in different areas of Singapore) I had meant to cram into the book somehow. Because though fascinating it was weighing me and the book down.

Before starting out, she had intended to walk 14 miles or more daily, but found herself starting out at an average of a mile an hour—this reminded me of my struggle to match word count goals. And to keep going even when I fell short. And that it gets easier (it did!).

And reading about her walking on despite sore muscles, bleeding blisters and dead toe nails made it easier for me to keeping writing. Not only because it helps to remember how much worse things could be, but because I started to see writing this book as a physical journey I didn’t want to give up on.

Her feeling overwhelmed at the sight of mountains in the distance while thinking of the miles still to go could have been describing me looking at my bloated messy manuscript. But as she went on step by step, I typed on line by line. Sometimes skidding backwards, sometimes taking a half day time out. Because even when you know roughly where your plot outline is taking you, you still have to do the day by day, line by line trek through unexpected landslides, mud in your path and getting lost. And then do it again tomorrow. And tomorrow.

I came to see myself as a writer exploring my relationship with my new book. We didn’t always get along, but giving up wasn’t an option.

The book is finished but I haven’t finished the PCT. According to Walking4Fun, I’m currently on the stretch between South Lake Tahoe and Donner Pass, just under the halfway point on the total trail. Last night in the trail photos, there was a happy looking yellow jacket wasp that made me feel glad to be ‘there’ and unwilling to stop. I’m the same weight now as I was when I started and I would like to go on with the trail. Yet it feels strange to log my step count without a corresponding word count.

Maybe it’s time to start the next book.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Cartoon of the Day: Cats


Peeps Dioramas: The Birds!


Of all my childhood Spring Confection memories, PEEPS stand out. My sister and I still buy each other PEEPS around Easter, even though neither of us actually eat the sugary marshmallow-y creatures any more--or at least I don't. She buys me purple rabbits; I buy her classic yellow chicks --the original PEEPS. You see where this is going? I'm a purist. To read more about my affinity for Peeps and Chocolate Covered Peeps, go to my chocolate blog Dying for Chocolate.

Sadly the Washington Post Peeps Diorama Contest ended last year. But in the spirit of that formidable paper, I thought I'd share three of my favorite things: Peeps and The Birds and Bodega Bay!

A few years ago I set up a small PEEPS scenario of my own. PEEPS vacationing in Bodega Bay. Hope the Chicks don't turn rogue. They are birds, after all.


Happy Easter!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Minnesota Book Awards: Genre Fiction

Congratulations to Allen Eskens who received the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction for The Heavens May Fall.

Eskens revisits characters from The Life We Bury in a mystery full of twists and turns, vividly told from two opposing perspectives. Detective Max Rupert and attorney Boady Sanden’s longtime friendship is being pushed to the breaking point. Max is convinced that Jennavieve Pruitt was killed by her husband, Ben. Boady is equally convinced that Ben, his client, is innocent. As the case unfolds, the two are forced to confront their own personal demons, and their friendship will never be the same. Eskens is also the author of The Life We Bury, a Minnesota Book Award finalist, and The Guise of Another. He was a practicing criminal defense attorney for 25 years.

Allen Eskens is the author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award, and the Silver Falchion Award and has been a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award, and the Minnesota Book Award. His debut novel, The Life We Bury, has been published in 16 languages and is being developed for a feature film.

Here's a link to all the 2017 Minnesota Book Award Winners

Cartoon of the Day: Double Agent