Monday, February 28, 2011

Launch Day!

Wow,it's almost March 1st and launch day for Bless the Bride. I'm no longer nervous but I'm always excited before a launch party. I've bought enough champagne and shamrock cookies, almond cookies and fortune cookies. I only hope they have good fortunes inside. If I'd thought ahead I could have had special ones made with facts about my books in them. Too bad. I always have my best ideas too late.

And a day before launch I got a piece of good news--Bless the Bride has already gone into a second printing. Everyone at Minotaur is pleased as most hardcover sales are slumping due to e-books and the economy. So let's keep our fingers crossed that it continues to sell well.

I've got lots of great facts to talk about at my various signings. New York's Chinatown, where much of the book takes place, was a place that held fascination even at the time I'm writing about. A man called Chuck Connors used to lead what he called slumming tours. He'd take people on a tour of Chinatown, emphasizing the depravity. He'd show them an opium den (a fake one) and the young ladies would swoon into the arms of their escorts. In fact Chinatown was a peaceful place when the tongs weren't at war. It was composed almost entirely of young men and all they did was work eat and sleep, hoping to save enough money to go home again. Of course Molly has heard all the rumors about Chinatown and is worried when she has to go there. With good reason, as it turns out. Will she singlehandedly rekindle the tong wars? Will she survive for her own wedding? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Five Days and Counting

Let the countdown begin: my new Molly book, BLESS THE BRIDE, comes out in five days.
March 1, 2011.
I'll be celebrating with a launch party at Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale AZ, so anyone who is in the Phoenix area, I'd love to see you.
I've already bought the champagne, but I'm still thinking about the food.
Stores should have shamrock cookies in them ready for St Patrick's day, don't you think? And the book takes place in New York's Chinatown so I'm going on the hunt for fortune cookies. But what else?
Since the theme is brides--are there any good wedding related cookies or food you can think of?
AND an added incentive: I'll be giving away two signed copies of the new book for the best comments received on this blog during the month of March.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Prince and Mrs. Simpson

Last night I watched the new Masterpiece Theater that featured the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Simpson as part of the plot. I'm delighted to say that the writer made them quite nasty. Exactly the way I portray her! He used to be more affable, but I'm sure that being married to her,being bored and frustrated and stripped of his royal privileges would have brought out the worst in him. And that family was known for outbursts of temper. Even his likeable brother Bertie (King George VI) was prone to explosions of rage.

I was puzzled that she was played with a frightfully English accent when I believe the Baltimore came through however much she tried. And I was also pleased to see that the writer brought out their loathing of the new queen (who became our beloved Queen Mum). That was because the queen never compromised her standards. She made it clear that Mrs. Simpson, a twice divorced woman and one with no concept of royal protocol, was not a suitable choice for the Prince of Wales and would do harm to the monarchy.

Mrs. Simpson loathed her in return and refered to her as the Dowdy Duchess and "that awful Scottish woman". But it was the queen who won that battle. She never forgave Mrs. Simpson for causing the prince of wales to abdicate and thus put her fragile husband on the throne. He died young, partly because of the stress of being king through the war. (He also smoked like a chimney)
So his wife made sure that they never were allowed back into Britain. As we found out in the TV play last night, they were sent to the Bahamas for the war, so that the Germans couldn't easily kidnap him and put him on the throne as a puppet king. After the war they mooched around Paris, she shopping and getting her hair done, he following behind looking bored. Serve him right!

I have to confess that the murder incident was new to me. Now I have to check whether that was real or not. If it was, then I have a great plot element waiting for me if I can bring Georgie through to thw war years.

So I do take delight in my books in making Mrs. Simpson a bit of a bitch. And making Georgie's mother her equal in banter and venom. They are going to meet again on the Riviera this September in Naughty in Nice. Stay posted.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Advice for a Royal Couple on Valentine's Day

Those of you who take the Sunday newspapers in the US will have seen the feature on Prince William and Kate in which famous people were asked to give them advice for a good marriage ahead. I suppose famous people are the only ones who can give advice to a couple like Will and Kate. Because marriage in the fish bowl of fame is very different from a normal relationship. We can only imagine the added stress of having ones every move reported in the press, of seeing the cover of those rags in the supermarket proclaiming that one of them is having an affair, is gay, is battling a terminal disease.. or any of the other completely false statements they print to sell papers.

If William even smiles at another woman, there will be rumors. If Kate refuses her dessert one day, she'll be battling anorexia. It's not easy being in the public eye. So my piece of advice would be--trust each other and laugh together and you can get through anything. The dedication for my next book, Bless the Bride, that comes out on March 1st, is to my husband John. I thank him for his help in each of my books, because he is a great editor and first reader, but I thought that he needed a dedication all to himself for once. And it reads, "You are the wind beneath my wings."

So this is the additional advice to William and Kate that I would give: be the wind beneath the wings for each other. Allow them the glamor of the spotlight, the public adoration, without feeling jealous or put out. Decide that you are taking on the world as a team, not as two individuals.

What advice would you give?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Wrinkle in Time

All I want next Christmas is a time machine.
I don't mean the H.G Wells type that takes you back into the past, although that would be useful to observe the world my characters live in. What I want is the sort of Time Turner that Hermione has in the Harry Potter series. A nice little hour glass so that I could do an hour's work and then flip it over to do another hours work in that same hour.

Because there are never enough hours in a day to get through everything. I'm sure this is a familiar lament for most of us but right now I'm really conscious of it. I'm trying to write my new Molly book, but slower than normal because I have to stop after about 3 pages because my wrist hurts too much.
And at the same time I'm conscious of all the things I should be doing to promote my books. I read other writers' blogs about what works for them in e-book promotion and Facebook and Twitter and I wonder--do these people ever sleep?

Facebook I really like because it connects me with people I consider my friends and readers. And it only takes a minute or so to read and post. Twitter I'm sure is wonderfully useful if one has a zillion followers. I don't have time to search out those zillion to follow and thus to follow me in return. And I haven't caught on to the use of hashmarks or whatever they are called.

I'm part of the fabulous Jungle Red Writers blog and have to comment daily even when it's not my turn. I try to post on my own blog at least once a week, which is not enough but it's all I can manage. Apparently I should be reading other people's blogs daily and making witty, intelligent comments on each of them, thus leading people to my blog.

Then there is Amazon. I'm supposed to comment on relevent online communities, to Tag books similar to mine, to keep up my Amazon page, even to post phoney reviews of my books under other names. (not going to do the last of these)

What I need is a full time secretary who knows me well enough to be able to comment as I would have done. Or maybe just a time turner.
I'm off to Tucson tomorrow to speak at a fabulour Brandeis fundraising luncheon. It will be a terrific event but it's taking time from my writing.
Anyone have a time turner they can lend me?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Love is Murder

I'm sitting at snowy O'Hare, hoping that my flight will be on time, on my way home from three days in very, very, very cold Chicago.
But you know, these midwesterners are tough. I arrived a few hours after O'Hare opened on Thursday and was whisked off to speak at a library that evening. The roads were scary for someone like me who never sees snow. On the interstates one or two lanes were cleared but there were great banks of snow beside the road and one had to spot the exit by the gap in the snowbank. Luckily my driver was a confident local.
We arrived at the library to find snowbanks all around it. The temperature was 6 degrees and dropping. Seriously I thought nobody would come. But we had a sell-out crowd. They turned people away. I was so impressed. I know I wouldn't have ventured out on a night like that. So if you're reading this and you came--thank you, thank you.
Once again it made me realize how much Chicagoites love their libraries.

The conference was at a hotel with spectacular modern artwork. It was a fun small mystery/thriller/romantic suspense con--very friendly, very well run. I had interesting interviews and attended some really good panels. Highlights were the lunch time interview wth Libby Fisher Hellman, who asked some really new,fresh questions, and then winning the Lovey Award for best mystery series at the banquet. What a surprise that was.

After dinner an event I wasn't so sure about--Joe Konrath put on a Stump the Stars panel in which he read out snippets form our books and we were supposed to know which book in came from. If we got it wrong he roasted us. If we got it right he roasted us too. Fun but a little scary.

So now I come to the journey home. I love winning awards. I am honored. BUT do they have to make the awards to look and feel like weapons when I have to go through airport security. This one was about eight inches tall and made of marble. Of course it looked suspicious and I had to take it out of my bag and show the woman that it was an award and it had my name on it!
I didn't add that it could still kill somebody quite nicely, name or no name!!
At least it wasn't as heavy as the tombstones I once won at Bouchercon.

More when I get home, but a big thank you to all at Love is Murder. I had a great time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Choosing Kate's Dress--royal wedding update

In England the latest wedding buzz is about the dress.  Word is that Kate has chosen her designer but won't let out the secret until the wedding. Kate's mother and sister were seen visiting Bruce Oldfield, a favorite designer of Princess Diana. But somehow I can't see Kate wanting to look like a "bloody great marshmallow" as Diana's dress was described to me once.

For one thing she's older and more sophisticated. She has a good sense of self and who she is, and she opts for elegance. So expect simpler lines and less frou-frou. Also I believe the royal couple is conscious that this is a period of austerity and that costs should be kept to a minimum while making sure that the wedding is the kind of spectacle everyone is hoping for. Not an easy balance, is it?

Most of us have to juggle wedding costs, but usually it's band versus DJ or whether we can afford three or four hors d'oeuvres. I don't suppose you've had to decide whether you want three carriages or four, the household cavalry to accompany you down the Mall, and the trumpeters as well as a symphony orchestra at Westminster Abbey. And then there is the grand ball afterward. Another dress needed plus all that food and drink, but necessary if the heads of state from around the world are coming to attend.

The closest I ever got to this was my goddaughter's wedding in Cornwall. It was a three day event, starting with church service, then reception with sit down dinner for 250, Cornish country music. Later another 150 people joined us for pasties and beer, and a jazz quartet, ending with a disco in the wee hours.
The next day was a cricket match, family versus the village, then a pig roast in one of the barns. Day three a cruise up the river Fal to a pub lunch and in the evening a grand ball. Lots of fun and very little sleep.

So what do you think Kate's dress will look like? Do you think she'll opt for simplicity and elegance over extravagence?