Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Road Warrior

Back from our mini book tour through Southern California with fellow mystery writer Cara Black. Ah, the glamorous life of a mystery writer: driving 300 miles around LA, swinging by Starbucks for espresso (triple for Cara) and back to motel late at night. Bagel for breakfast from the motel lobby. 

And the usual minor disasters. In Thousand Oaks we went into a French cafe because Cara had given a luncheon speech at which everyone else ate except her. I got a small pastry and didn't realize that the plate was expertly decorated with drizzles of chocolate. Carried back the plate and wound up with a line of chocolate across my white top. (Typical Rhys Bowen!). Then the next day Cara stopped me going into a store and whispered, "You've got white on your black pants." I don't know where it came from. It looked like white paint. Came off with a little scrubbing in the rest room.

But we had lovely people who came out to see us at each of our venues and the reassurance that brave little independent bookstores are still hanging in there,  still supported by loyal customers, and Kindle is not yet taking over the world.  I had a pleasant surprise last night when we did an event at Books Inc at Laurel Village in San Francisco and they ran out of chairs and space, on a Monday evening. Ingrid, the events coordinator had provided French wine and treats because Cara's books are set in Paris.

Now I've two days to do laundry, catch up before I head off to Sacramento to Left Coast Crime. I'll report from that!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good News and Hitting the Road.

As most of you must know by now, my 11th Molly Murphy novel came out on March 13th. Eleven must be a charm because yesterday I learned that it had made the New York Times bestseller list. As you can imagine I am over the moon at this news. So often I have come close and now I have finally made it.
Was it the great cover? The atmospheric title? All the work I do in social media these days? Probably a combination of all three. I don't care how I did it. I made it. Yipee! Do a happy dance with me.

And tomorrow I set off on an intensive three days speaking and signing around Southern California with my good friend Cara Black. Cara has a new Aimee Leduc novel out, called Murder at the Lanterne Rouge.  If you haven't read Cara's books yet--they are all set in Paris and are so wonderfully suspenseful as well as taking the reader to the different arondissements of Paris.. This one is set in Paris's Chinatown, which is fun because my last year's Molly book, now a brand new paperback, was set in New York's Chinatown, so we'll have a lot ot talk about.

It's always more fun to do a book tour with a fellow author. For one thing she can navigate for me as I find my way across LA to Thousand Oaks, Tustin, Redondo Beach, downtown LA,, Huntington Beach, Paasadena again, speaking at 6 bookstores. Then back up Highway 5 to speak the next night in San Francisco. It's a whirwind tour with little time to breathe and I would love to see some friendly faces if you live in the area.

I'll blog along the way if I can find time and let you know anything fun/strange/exciting that happens to us. Our strangest so far was speaking together at a nudist colony. I believe all events this weekend are to be clothed, but one never knows!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inspiration from an elephant.

 We writers are always being asked where we get our ideas from. My answer will be forever more simple. FROM AN ELEPHANT.

This is my advisory elephant. He was given to me for Christmas by my daughter Clare who said, "he is supposed to sit by your computer and give you inspiration when you get stuck in a book."
My other kids picked up on this immediately.
"He'd say 'how about if she was murdered by being sat on by ane elephant?'
How about if an elephnat tailed him through the city?
How about if it was a trunk call?
How about if it's part of a Mammoth Book of mysteries?

Okay they were all silly, but you know, I am finding that he is very wise in his suggestions. Mostly he says 'if it's not working now, go and take a walk. Or go shopping. It will come to you on the way back.' And you know, it does.

I am definitely a seat-of-the-panter when it comes to writing. No outline for me. Not even a story line to follow. I really don't know what is going to happen to my heroine next. I know a little, mostly about the environment she will enter. For example in the new Molly book, HUSH NOW DON'T YOU CRY, I knew that Molly would uncover some dark secret about a family at one of the Newport 'cottages'. I also had an image in my mind of a child's face in a tower window, laughing demonicly in a thunderstorm  So I start with that and stumble ahead.

So it's very comforting now to know there is an elephant sitting nearby who will come to my aid. Only one thing wrong--I haven't managed to name him yet. Any suggestions? Actually I've been waiting for him to tell me but he is inclined to be shy.....
What's that ? No, elephant, they are not going to hide the body in a trunk.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

10 Fun Things to Do for St. Paddy's Day

1. Dye your hair green.

2. Do Riverdance while waiting for the bus or around the supermarket

3. Sing Oh Danny Boy at the metro station, and put a hat in front of you. It will pay for the green beer.

4. Change your name to O'Rosenblum, O'Garcia or O'Demetriov.

5. Read Finnegan's Wake out loud. Try to make sense of it.

6. Visit every Irish pub in town and order a Perrier.

7.Go to every Irish pub in town wearing orange and then claim you're a Giant's supporter when they try to knock you to a pulp.

8: Go up to the most attractive man/woman you meet and say "Kiss me, I'm Irish." See if they believe you.

9: Go to confession for the stupid numbers 1-8

10. And if none of the above appeal to you, then order a copy of the new Molly Murphy book, HUSH NOW, DON'T YOU CRY. It's a better way to spend your time than any of the others and far less dangerous!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Prince Harry--Just Ordinary Folks

There is going to be an interview with Prince Harry this week in which he says he and his brother often spoke about wanting to be normal. He also said that the worst thing about his childhood was having to sit at adult dinner parties and listen to boring conversation.

Well Harry I've got news for you--you are delightfully normal. You have none of the royal aloofness and awkwardness among the plebs that made former generations of royals (including your father) seem so different, so nerdy. And anyone who can go into a combat unit in Afghanistan--not just as a royal stunt, but as a real, active member of that unit--is more than normal. He is someone to be respected, not just because he has a title but because he is willing to act like a normal chap in the worst of circumstances.

Harry also says that the important thing about his title is that it can raise awareness and money for charities and he's already working hard at that, especially in Africa. How very like his mother he is. Loves to party and dance, great sense of humor and equally great desire to do good. I'm sure she's really proud of him.

When his brother becomes king one day he'll also have an appreciation of what it's like to be a normal person. He has started married life living in a farm house in Wales with no servants. He has sat in the mess with fellow RAF officers, waiting to be called out on search and rescue duty. He has faced horrendous conditionPrinces during ocean rescues. He'll be a king who knows what it's like to be hard up, scared, cold, worried.

The generation of royals I write about in my Royal Spyness books are completely cut off from the real world. Princess Elizabeth and her sister Margaret were dying to play with other girls, but had a governess all their lives. The closest they came was a girl guide troop started for them at Buckingham Palace with a few carefully chosen, suitable girls. But the desire to be normal was always lurking, I suspect. Princess Elizabeth volunteered to be a driver during WWII and learned about engines (and presumably some choice swear words while working on them). And yet once she became queen she lived apart in her palaces, only mixing with her subjects as their monarch.

I'm sure William and Harry will try to mix with their subjects as much as possible--the only thing holding them back is the stupid question of security. We live in a world where bumping off a royal is seen as a statement by many groups and religious fanatics. I don't think we can imagine what it is like to have a security detail following you everywhere you go. Not my cup of tea!

Harry wants to go back to Afghanistan with his unit. With the current situation and the number of crazy people over there who would think it a blow for Islam to kill a British prince I wonder if he will ever be allowed to?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Aiding Downton WithdrawaL

If you're suffering from Downton withdrawal, (like me) then a couple of things showed up on the web today to ease your pangs.

First from the bookbitch blog:For those of you going through Downton Abbey withdrawal, you may want to take a look at my blog today where you can win a copy of the book that inspired the Downton Abbey series, TO MARRY AN ENGLISH LORD by Gail MacColl and Carol McD. Wallace.: http://bookbitch.blogspot.com/2012/03/ive-got-cure-for-downton-abbey.html Cheers, Stacy Alesi I am the BookBitch: http://www.bookbitch.com

and then this delicious quiz to see which Downton Abbey character you are: Here is a link, although it's on several sites today.
And guess who I turned out to be? Robert, Earl of Grantham! Well I guess I am aristocratic by nature but with a social conscience, but I'm not going to start eyeing the maids any time soon!

And if you'd like a quick dose of an upper class American mansion--my new Molly Murphy book takes place in one of the famous cottages in Newport R.I.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Two Days to Molly

I'm in final countdown mode to the publication of my eleventh Molly Murphy novel, HUSH NOW, D ON'T YOU CRY. It is scheduled for release on Tuesday March 13th and I'm excited about it as I think it's a particularly suspenseful gothic type of plot and it has a great cover.

Spoiler coming if you are not up to date with the Molly books.

It is also the first book since Molly got married at the end of Bless the Bride. Since she promised Daniel that she would give up her detective business when she married, it will be a challenge from now on to find reasons for her to solve crimes without sneaking behind her husband's back (which she'd never do, of course).  Another thing that's different about this book is that most of the stories take place in the gritty atmosphere of New York City, but this one takes Molly and Daniel to the famous "cottages" in Newport R.I. For those who don't know about these cottages, they were really extravagant mansions built as summer homes by the very rich--Vanderbilts and Rockerfellers and Astors. Molly and Daniel are there out of season and expect to have the place to themselves... but it seems the whole family of a New York alderman has been invited and none of them has any idea why.

I'm doing a mini-tour this time with my good friend Cara Black who is celebrating her new Aimee Leduc novel, Murder at the Lanterne Rouge. We'll be signing in Scottsdale on Monday 12th, and then at six stores in Southern California on the weekend of the 23rd of March, then a couple of events in the Bay Area and appearing at the Left Coast Crime convention in Sacramento at the end of March. My schedule is on my website.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Real Men Don't Cry

Okay, confession--I'm hooked on The Biggest Loser. Just watching what they go through and the ultimate transformation is amazing. BUT I'm not so thrilled about the amount of crying, especially when coming from the men. There was the week when one man declared he was quitting and going home because he missed his family. It was declared with tears running down his cheeks. At that time he'd only been away for about three weeks. He needed a drill sergeant to slap him around a little. A soldier deployed in Afghanistan for six months misses his family. But anybody can survive without loved ones for a month or so.

When my husband worked for an airline he was gone all the time (in fact it was sometimes a nuisance when he was home, but don't tell him that). Actually a marriage with separations is often sweeter and stronger because you appreciate each other more, and have enough alone time to be your own person.

But the point I really want to make is WHEN DID IT BECOME OKAY FOR MEN TO CRY IN PUBLIC? Now it seems everyone is doing it. Speaker Behner can't say two words without choking up. Even tough guy Vladimir Putin is reputed to have cried when he found that he was reelected to the presidency this week. And on reality shows it's the norm.

Until recently I had never seen a man cry. My father certainly never showed emotion. Boys were brought up with the admonition "Be a man. Don't cry." So is it good or bad that we are suddenly showing all this emotion? Was repressing our true feelings paving the way for expensive therapy bills? I understand that during WWII the people on the island of Malta suffered awful nightly bombing. They wailed, they shouted and let out their feelings in true Mediterranean style. The English were equally bombed and kept stiff upper lips. After the war the Maltese suffered no mental effects. The English had mental collapses all over the place.

So I suppose I should feel glad that real men can finally cry in public. Footballers on winning the Superbowl can choke up. I'm sure Olympic athletes will accept their medals with tears running down their cheeks. But it still makes me feel uncomfortable. In fact if it happens too much I might just cry.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Between Two Worlds (or is it three?)

If you wonder if writers get caught up in their fictional world I can tell you categorically that yes--we live our characters' lives. And their emotions. When Daniel Sullivan is behaving badly, I find I am snapping at my husband.

This has been brought home very strongly to me this week. I am in the middle of writing a new Molly Murphy novel. In fact I am two hundred pages into it. Molly is trying to trace a missing Irish girl and her quest has led her to a strange and creepy convent. So I am in New York, in 1904. I am with Molly and her friends, battling the garbage strewn streets of the Lower East Side, then having to take a horse and buggy between towns in Westchester County, visiting impressive mansions that might rival Downton Abbey.

And in my head I have Molly's Irish voice and her feisty character. However, my other publisher had asked me if I would write an e-story to whip up enthusiasm for my next Lady Georgie book. It is scheduled to come out in time for Halloween, in fact they wanted a Halloween story. I agreed. But then I found that they wanted it NOW. Not next fall, as I had thought. So I had to abandon Molly, about to be locked into an enclosed order of nuns, and suddenly leap to royal circles in England in the 1930s. 

It reminded me of the way I felt when I was summoned to Australia when my mother was dying. It was the day before Christmas and I was preparing for the whole family to arrive. It was cold and rainy and Christmas music was playing everywhere. I got on a plane and 14 hours later I landed in Australia where it was mid-summer. All around me people were going to the beach carrying surf boards. It was so surreal I had a hard time handling it.

So I've been going through the same thing for the past few days. I've had to push Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side out of my mind and instead hear the well-bred tones of Lady Georgie as she goes to a reception at Buckingham Palace. I've had to make my mind come up with clever 1930s repartee and introduce Mrs. Simpson to Georgie.  I find it helps to speak the words out loud and it's funny--when I'm with Georgie I am so frightfully upper class, in my attitudes as well as my speech.

Now I've finished it and tomorrow I go back to Molly again. No more caviar and champagne for a while. No servants to dress me. Now it's back to the neat little house on Patchin Place, and Molly's friends Sid and Gus.... I wonder what will happen to her?

And next week I celebrate the release of Hush Now, Don't You Cry.