Friday, November 23, 2012

The post-Thanksgiving Curmudgeon

Yesterday was a day of warmth and family, sitting around the table and sharing what we were thankful for. So today I'm eating leftovers and having a few thoughts about what I'm not thankful for. Don't get me wrong. I'm awfully grateful for many things--my family, my career,my friends, for living in two places that are so beautiful, for having the chance to travel, for recovering completely from my horrible accident earlier this year.

But if I had a little chat with God, I'd have to tell Him (or Her) of some small ways he goofed. For one thing--I'm not thankful for insects, especially spiders. Anything creepy, crawly with lots of legs is a nightmare to me. My daughter tells me that if there were no insects corpses would never decompose. Couldn't God have made self-decomposing bodies, or better still let us never die?

And I'm not thankful for the way people sing these days.  The louder the singer screeches, the more the audience applauds. What happened to sweet, melodic singing? What happened to good lyrics? I still miss the Beatles and Yesterday.

And in a more modern vein, I'm not thankful for cell phones. I know they are extremely convenient and these days a plane lands and everyone whips out a cell phone and says those magic words, "I just landed." But for all their convenience they have robbed society of one of its most important aspects--interpersonal communication. Watch people in restaurants, in parks, anywhere in public. They are not talking to each other, they are in private universes, texting and reading messages on their smart phones. We'll have a whole generation growing up for whom the art of conversation will be lost.

And do share--are there any particular things you are not thankful for?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Hotel Enigma

I've just returned from a book tour to promote my new Lady Georgie novel, The Twelve Clues of Christmas. After a week of staying in some very snooty hotels, I am left puzzled about certain things, downright grouchy about others.
1. Why does anyone actually need thirty four pillows on the bed? It seems the more expensive the hotel, the more pillows you get.  And I throw all of them onto a chair except one

2. Why does a hotel that charges several hundred dollars a night put really cheap toilet paper in the bathroom? I can afford Charmin double thick. Surely they can too.It would be suitable if they had designer TP maybe with the hotel crest embossed into it. But I'd be content with something thick enough that it doesn't break to pieces when I try to tear it off.

3. Why can't faucets in hotel bathrooms all work the same way? Why does it take me half an hour to figure out how to turn on the shower, and get hit in the face with icy water in the proecess?

4. Aren't hotel bedrooms supposed to be restful places? Then why put scary pictures on walls, strange pieces of artwork on tables. All I want to do is sleep, not admire art, and a large image of a faceless man staring down at me is not going to help.

5. How can anyone charge fifteen dollars for a continental breakfast without blushing with guilt?  I agree that one has to pay a cook to prepare something, but one croissant and tea surely don't take much preparing, apart from putting it onto a plate.

6.And on the subject of food--why this need to come up with strange, new, untried combinations of flavor. I don't actually want pork cheeks with scallops, or anything with organic striped figs. After a long day grilled cheese and tomato soup sounds good to me.

Do you have any pet hotel beefs? Have you ever found the perfect hotel?

Monday, November 19, 2012

catching my breath

For the faithful followers of this blog, I'm sorry I haven't kept you up to date. Traveling to one city each day with an event every evening means there isn't enough time for my usual online routine. I did keep everyone up to date on Facebook, but that was about all I could manage. (So if you want my daily updates, do check out my Facebook page and click LIKE. It's AuthorRhysBowen.)

I've now finished my tour and I'm at our condo in Arizona, catching my breath.... and enjoying all the good news. The Twelve Clues of Christmas made the New York Time bestseller list at #25 this weekend and also the Publisher's Weekly list at #25 and was mentioned on USA Today's blog... and was the Number One Cozy mystery on and the Number One historical mystery.

So all good news. Now it's hard to wind down after rushing to catch a plane every morning, removing shoes, jacket etc etc, being patted down because I was wearing a skirt (that's a first, isn't it?). And finding myself in a small plane, squashed in next to a man who was an aged lady's man and still thought he was hot stuff. Luckily just for an hour's flight.  He told me he was a golf pro and he could teach me a lot of new things. He gave a lecherous leer while saying this. I told him I was a mystery writer and could kill with no trace.

I'm now going to enjoy Thanksgiving week with family before I do more events early in December. I hope you can take the time to enjoy your Thanksgivings too.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tour Update

 Book Tour For The Twelve Clues of Christmas,  Day 5. Today I'm in Seattle, having come from hot Houston to cold and wet. It was quite a jolt to the system and I had to rush out and find some warm tights. This afternoon the weather improved and the sun tried to break through the clouds. I had finished my noon time event at The Seattle Mystery Bookstore and the various drive-by signings so I escaped to the waterfront and stood on a dock watching the ferries glide across black water. It was very peaceful and just the sort of spiritual charge I needed in the middle of a busy schedule.

Now I have to put on my "famous author" clothes again and go out to another event at Third Place Books. And in the morning I have to be up early to appear on a Seattle TV show. I'm supposed to recreate an old English Christmas in the studio. I'm bringing crackers and the props to play silly games. The producer wanted me to make sausage rolls in front of the camera, but I could forsee too many potential disasters there and am having a local tea shop make them instead.

I met two lovely ladies today--one had driven to see me all the way from Spokane, that's five hours, and the other was recovering from a serious illness and told me what a comfort my audio books had been to her. It's moments like that that make the long lonely months of writing all worthwhile.

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be in Portland, first at Murder by the Book and then at Powells in the evening. Then I'm going home. Yipee.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Book Tour, The Ups and Downs.

Rhys checking in from on the road, promoting my new book The Twelve Clues of Christmas. If it's Saturday it must be Houston.
The event in Scottsdale at Poisoned Pen was fabulous with a big audience who loved playing the English party games, pulling crackers and trying the cake and shortbread. Fellow mystery writers Dana Stabenow and Jen McKinley were sweet enough to come and cheer me on, as was super-librarian/blogger Lesa Holstein.

So that was the good part of the tour so far. The bad part was yesterday's flight, that I almost missed. I arrived at the airport one and a half hours before the flight. Stood in a line for half an hour to drop off my bag, then stood in the TSA line for FORTY FIVE MINUTES. The line snaked around the terminal while two agents checked documents. When I was about to cut the line, pleading that I was about to miss my flight they brought out more TSA people and it speeded up. Ridiculous.

I remember flying when it was fun and relaxing. Now it is a royal pain, if you'll pardon the terminology :) Then on the flight I had a real Lady Georgie moment. For those of you who don't know my heroine, she tends to be clumsy and have embarrassing accidents. Well..... on the plane I opened the cream for my coffee and it shot straight at my dark blue blazer. Lots of desperate rubbing and I think it's going to be okay.

Today I speak at one of my favorite stores: Murder by the Book in Houston. Hope to see some of you there. And tomorrow on to Seattle. Complete itinerary on my website.
And today I'm blogging at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's the marmite doing in the shower?

If you're expecting a coherent and witty blog post from me today, I'm afraid it ain't going to happen. I left home this morning on the first leg of a book tour. And if you don't think I'm stressed before I set off on tour, let me tell you that I walked into the shower carrying a jar of marmite this morning. I meant to put it away in the pantry.

I'm now in Scottsdale and guess what--it's dark and raining and looks as if there might be a thunderstorm any moment. Great. It rains in this part of the world about six times a year and yet whenever I have a book signing event it rains. I'm thinking of hiring myself out as a rain-maker.

If you do want to read a witty or funny blog by me I have been guest blogging on several sites this week. where I blogged an interview between Lady Georgie and Molly Murphy. where I blogged about fashion disasters during book tours (not prophetic, I hope)
and tomorrow on where I'm blogging about searching for the real Christmas.

And I'm posting my updates on Facebook
Maybe tomorrow I'll have a few moments to post something coherent here. And no more jars of Marmite in the shower.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Upstairs, Downstairs

Are you addicted to the new Upstairs,Downstairs as much as you were to Downton Abbey? Me neither. I wonder why, as the story is just as much soap opera. Maybe it's just that the house is smaller, and the people are correspondingly smaller. Nobody to compare with the nobility of Robert, Earl of Grantham, or Lady Mary Crawley. Or maybe it's just that I remember the original series so fondly. That seemed to have real drama and pathos without being sleazy or reverting to shock value. I remember the episode when Lady Marjorie falls in love with a young officer, but it's just left as a romance that can never be. She doesn't leap into bed with him. And the heart-stretching triangle at the battle front in WWI when James is wounded and his cousin Georgina is his nurse, desperately in love with him, and his wife Hazel goes out to France to bring him home. Those were dramas that really moved me. The dramas in this series seem sensational or small and petty.

Am I just older and wiser now or is this series part of the new school of writing that has to go for blockbuster all the time? Or maybe it's the time frame that's different. Life in the 1930s had definitely changed for the aristocracy. Servants were no longer so subservient to their masters. Uncomfortable movements like the Black Shirts were permeating all levels of society.

Ah well. Only two months to the next Downton season. I know it's already out in England but I'm being good and not emailing relatives to ask what is happening.

And another snippet: my own new Lady Gerogie novel, THE TWELVE CLUES OF CHRISTMAS, which features quite a bit of upstairs/downstairs action in a lovely old manor house, will be in stores and on Amazon and Barnes and tomorrow. Much more fun that the election, I promise you!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thoughts after Sandy

As I watched the TV broadcasts of the destruction on the East Coast I was conscious that the reporters said over and over again things about the might of Mother Nature. We are powerless against Mother Nature, they repeated. How true, and yet we never learn.

In the county of Kent, in Southern England, there is a town called Rye. It was once thriving, one of the famous Cinque Ports that traded with the rest of Europe. It is now a sleepy country town because the coastline has changed and the sea is now several miles away. And not too far away there is another village, now under water. Both are classic examples of the way coastlines change over the centuries. Cliffs crumble. Sand washes down the coast with the tide and makes new sand bars. Barrier islands are just this--sand bars that are supposed to be fluid and temporary and protect the coast. When we build on them we try to make them permanent, but they will never be.

I know I'd be tempted to buy a lovely beachfront home. Who wouldn't. But in the end Mother Nature is going to win.There is always going to be that one hurricane, that one storm surge, freak wave, that washes over the barrier island and takes the sand away to deposit further north and make new land. It's how our planet works. And we should accept that. Let's hope that people will learn to leave the coast to Mother Nature and not try to rebuild.

Having said this, I choose to live near an earthquake fault, hoping that the "big one" won't come in my lifetime. I guess we humans are willing to trade any amount of risk for the lovely view and the closeness to nature. Maybe we hope that this close proximity will convince Mother Nature to be on our side for once.