Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

It’s almost the weekend… and while we’ll be jamming to our favorite Prince tunes, hoisting an ale for the death 400 years gone of the Bard, and thinking the Queen is looking pretty damn good for 90, reading time will come. Reading is comforting, entertaining, mesmerizing. A great novel is a friend and a lifeline.

She who readsThe thing about writing a novel is that many of us have little time, or mental space, to read for fun. This really kicks it because the reason most of us started writing is that we love fiction, love novels, love to read everything from the back of the cereal box to the latest graphic novel. When I first started writing I was warned to not read fiction while writing, as it would affect my “voice.” And yes, this isn’t terrible advice for the beginning writer. Stick to your plan, dive deep into your story and your characters, and don’t let some other author’s style get in your head.

At this point in my career, and my life, I can’t do that. I MUST READ. That doesn’t mean I don’t have must-see television of course… Game of Thrones is coming! Who will die?!

ka-boomA few weeks ago I mentioned my interrupted writing schedule and being behind on my next Bennett Sisters novel. Well, I can tell you that I finished the first draft this week. It is far from done but I am letting it percolate awhile to get some gardening, and other writing, done.

But I couldn’t resist having a wee moment of squee. The life of a writer allows few moments of celebration as grand as when you sell a book, or your very own creation arrives on your doorstep. Finishing a first draft isn’t that big a deal, but it’s something. So I squee.

• • •

Congrats as well to Aaron and Diana who were winners in the Amazon giveaway of The Girl in the Empty Dress. I want everyone to be up to date on the Sisters!  I still have one more e-book to give away, so stay tuned for that. Please sign up for the newsletter to keep up to date on all the giveaways. CLICK HERE

So… whatcha reading? I love to hear about good books. Here are a few I recently read:

The Paris Winter51cz88ehlfl-_sx328_bo1204203200_

It checks all the boxes: France, historical, art, intrigue. Well-done debut by British author Imogen Robertson, The Paris Winter is about a penniless art student in 1910 Paris who gets in with some nasty folks in an attempt to stave off cold and starvation while painting madly.

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The Black Count 

This one also ticks the France and history boxes, but it’s non-fiction, about the story behind the writer, Alexandre Dumas. The author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo was the grandson of a French nobleman and his black Caribbean wife. Their son was brought back to France and raised as a Frenchman. The Count’s swashbuckling life was the stuff of fiction, and there is no doubt Dumas learned these stories at his father’s knee.  Pulitzer winner for Biography. Fascinating.

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Mist of Midnight

For the new book I’m writing I wanted to rediscover a love of gothic novels. I read, and re-read a few gothics, those semi-scary romantic thrillers usually set in a creepy old house and featuring an orphan on her own in the world. (I believe the orphan trope is wish-fulfillment for readers who both crave and fear independence/dislocation from their parents. Probably why gothics appeal to certain age groups of young female readers.) I picked something newish and read Mist of Midnight by Sandra Byrd. Set in Victorian England (as good gothics usually are) a young woman returns from India to reclaim her inheritance only to find she has been declared dead and a distant relative has taken over the country house. Well done, not terribly scary at all, faithful to the genre. I enjoyed it very much.

Yes, there is a creepy old house in the new book…. 😱

Stay tuned for a cover reveal, coming soon!

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The October Surprise

It’s been a wild year for me… moving, traveling, and, unfortunately, not getting a lot of writing done.LiseChef

That’s not to say I haven’t been working on book projects. One in particular has taken a lot of time. Writing, editing, designing, marketing: I’ve had my editor/publisher hat on for quite a bit of this one. (No not the one in the photo.) The book is a collaboration between me and my Thalia Press partner, Katy Munger, plus three other mystery writers. Well-seasoned, all of us – with tarragon and a hint of lemon.

Adobe Photoshop PDFAnd we’re ready to pull this cupcake from the oven. Stick a fork in it. It’s warm, it’s golden. It’s done!

On Thursday, October 1, my friends and I officially release our project, a group novel we call Beat Slay Love: One Chef’s Hunger for Delicious Revenge. It’s a dark comic send-up of serial killer novels, food mysteries, chick lit, and an iconic book you may remember, Eat Pray Love. We offer our sincere apologies to Elizabeth Gilbert and hope she can appreciate our tongue-in-cheek swipe at all that is holy. For we spare very few in this thriller. Reality TV chefs: done for. Pompous jerks: finished. Fakers and takers: outa here. Gleefully!

The book has been a blast. My friends — besides Katy the fabulous collaborators are Kate Flora, Gary Phillips, and Taffy Cannon — and I took turns writing sections, riffing on each other’s plot lines, developing protagonists and villains, taking our crew from coast to coast, from lobster in Maine to huckleberries in Montana, from food festivals to fine dining. We never really believed, in our heart of hearts, that it would work. Writers are notoriously individualist. Probably somebody would give up, go off the rails, throw up their hands. But, remarkably, to our surprise, it did work. Bestselling author Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries that inspired ‘True Blood,’ said this:

This incredibly sly mystery has everything you’d want when you bite into a dish: suspense, spice, and a new take on an old classic. For anyone who’s ever watched Chopped or even stopped in at Williams Sonoma — Beat, Slay, Love is the perfect read.”cocktail-mockup-buxom-1

So the time has come. We hope you’ll enjoy ‘Thalia Filbert’s take on contemporary American food and crime. To celebrate we’ve put together a recipe book called Thalia Filbert’s Killer Cocktail Party. Comment below to get a copy free.

And enjoy Beat Slay Love as much as we did writing it. Think of it as a juicy October dessert. Mmmm.

Kindle    Nook     Paperback  

Where in the world is Rory, er, Lise?

All over the blogosphere, that’s where! I’ve been guest blogging to promote Jump Cut, but most of the posts are about writing, writers, and the writing life. (Hey, “write what you know.”)

Check out Camille Minichino’s blog: Everything is Personal where I introduce the world to Rory, my alter ego.

Over at Suspense Novelist I describe for Peg Brantley what I call the Juggling Pins (or Pens?) of Suspense, and compare the mystery to the suspense novel.

At Jenny Milchman’s Suspense Your Disbelief, I describe my “Made It Moment” as the moment I truly believed in myself as a writer.

Coming up this weekend I’ll be on Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews blog.

I hope you’ll support these fine bloggers. And thank you, Camille, Peg, Jenny, and Lisa. More to come!

JUMP CUT on Amazon. And on Barnes & Noble. Check out the trailer!

Advice from Mimi: No decisions while under the influence of Cosmopolitans

We have a special treat today, an interview by author Rory Tate. Tate questions the protagonist of the new thriller JUMP CUT, television reporter Mimi Raynard, about the events portrayed in the novel.

Tate: Miss Raynard, you work in the news department at a Seattle television station but you don’t seem to be on the air very often. What’s up with that?

Mimi: Oh, you’ve noticed. The problem is that I am a very good editor and all the other reporters want my help putting together snappy, compelling stories. And the anchorwoman is always needing something at Nordstrom’s. There is also the problem of my boss.

Tate: You don’t get along with your boss?

Mimi: You might say that. We were married for nearly five years. We met in Spokane, where I worked at a TV station. Corey sold Toyotas back then but wanted to get into TV. So I helped him.

Tate: That was nice of you.

Mimi: Wasn’t it? We both got new jobs in Seattle at K-POW. Then he, well, we split up. Then the worst thing happened. He became news director.

Tate: Your boss.

Mimi: So he can decide what assignments he wants to give me. It was a slow summer. I did a live feed from the funnel cake booth at the fair. Big whoop. Then a bunch of reporters got sick and I got a plum assignment. It was a triple homicide, pretty awful stuff, but for a reporter it was, you know, smoking hot. Heroin overdoses. I was so excited. But somehow I blew it.

Tate: Was it on the air, live?

Mimi: My grandmother, who raised me and is very elderly, had fallen down and just before I was set to go on live, the Ukrainian housekeeper, Sveta, called me. I was so worried about Gran. Then I lost the notes. Then… well, you get the picture.

Tate: Back up. Your grandmother raised you?

Mimi: My parents broke up when I was little. My mother died when I was nine and my father, well, he was busy traveling the world as an engineer-for-hire. I hadn’t seen Buck for fifteen years when he resurfaced.

Tate: He sounds like a free spirit.

Mimi: That’s putting it mildly. He got kicked out of Stanford for building a bomb to blow up the ROTC building. Things have pretty much spiraled out of control ever since for old Buck.

Tate: Do you think you inherited some of that free spirit?

Mimi: Not too much, I hope, because Buck is not exactly good-human material, if you know what I mean. I do like to travel. Strange places don’t scare me. Strange men sometimes do, but not the exotic places. I get myself into some dicey situations sometimes. But I use the old noodle to get myself out of trouble, as the Ukrainians would say.

Tate: Are there a lot of Ukrainians and Russians in the Seattle area?

Mimi: It’s just a hop over the pond from Vladivostok. There are Russian Orthodox churches and great Russian pastries and whole families who have emigrated.

Tate: So you might find a Russian “babushka” like in the book?

Mimi: Oh, sure, a granny complete with headscarf who speaks no English. The kids or grandkids bring her over with them. Some of them came before the fall of the Soviet Union, some after.

Tate: But your babushka in the book is… ah…

Mimi: Fake? Yes. One of my more clever blunders. I can do a great Russian accent. I had a part in Fiddler on the Roof in high school. For awhile I thought I might be an actress but I came to my senses and went to journalism school.

Tate: Why did you fake your babushka?

Mimi: Well, remember what I said about my ex being my boss? I needed a new job, badly.

Tate: Let’s talk about this narcotics detective.

Mimi: Mmmm. Shad Mulgrew. Yeah, he has his problems too. He got suspended from the force for allegedly stealing drugs from evidence.

Tate: Are there a lot of drug problems in Seattle? I mean, I’ve heard about Kurt Cobain and all that…

Mimi: Heroin goes up and down. Sometimes there’s a rash of deaths, then things cool off. But yes, there are plenty of drugs in Seattle, easy to get, easy to smuggle in with all the fishing boats and cargo ships. It’s a big problem.

Tate: And Shad Mulgrew is working on it?

Mimi: Until he gets framed. Then he has to figure out who framed him. That’s a big puzzle. I don’t want to give too much away but we end up working together so solve both our problems.

Tate: Can I ask if you’re back on the air?

Mimi: You can ask. But I don’t have to answer.

Tate: One last question: What were you for Halloween this year?

Mimi: A fat Russian grandma with three chins, of course. I had the costume. Whose idea was that? Remind me never to drink Cosmos, okay?

Tate: Martinis only for now on. Oh, what is a jump cut anyway?

Mimi: It’s an editing term for a rough transition that makes an object look like it jumps. Could be a rough transition in life though. I’ve had a few of those and they’re no picnic.

Read about Mimi in JUMP CUT, out now from Thalia Press. Check out the trailer and first chapters at rorytate.com.

Barnes & Noble          Amazon              Amazon Kindle

Fireworks 4 U?

My guest blogger for Independence Day is Kaye George, short story writer and novelist, who lives outside Austin, Texas. Kaye’s short story, “The Truck Contest,” was nominated for an Agatha Award at the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention. What are you doing for the 4th? Don’t set your hair on fire!

Fireworks, by Kaye George

Fireworks… None for me this year, living in drought-stricken central Texas. All the towns have cancelled and the stands are closed–banned for the Fourth! I see the need for the ban, of course, but I adore fireworks and will miss them. I wouldn’t dare light even a sparkler, it’s so dry and windy.

Speaking of banning, the idea of banned books sets off fireworks for me! I remember my mother picketing in front of a bookstore in support of a book that had been banned. Or maybe the bookstore was being censured for selling a banned book? Okay, I was a child and don’t remember the particulars, but I did understand that Mom was against banning books.

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So it was kind of funny when she told me she didn’t want me reading the Alfred Hitchcock collections on my Aunt Lois’s bookshelves. I’ve never seen them anywhere else since my childhood, but these hardcovers had the pudgy man’s name on the cover and they were thick books full of scary, twisty short stories. Mom thought I would have nightmares if I read them, I guess. But one spring Aunt Lois bought a chest-style deep freeze and announced to everyone that she would have on hand, at all times, THREE flavors of ice cream. This was something unheard of. But exciting! I pedaled my bike across town many times that summer, telling Mom I was going to get ice cream at Aunt Lois’s. Sure, I would eat ice cream, but I would also sit on her couch and devour those delicious short stories. That was the beginning of my love affair with them. I moved on to O. Henry and still re-read the complete works that I proudly own.

To make up for the lack of sparks in the night sky this year, I’ve decided to try to put some spark into my ebook sales by lowering the price on both my humorous mystery, CHOKE (Mainly Murder Press for the paperback, me for the ebook), and my short story collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES. They’ll go for 99 cents each the first week or two of July (maybe longer, I haven’t decided yet). I’ve started the price reductions at Smashwords and hope they filter to Kindle and Nook ASAP.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Fourth!

~~~~~

Kaye George is the author of CHOKE: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery (Mainly Murder Press), as well as A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, a collection of her previously published stories, and THE BAVARIAN KRISP CAPER, available at Untreed Reads. FISH TALES: The Guppy Anthology contains her story, “The Truck Contest”. She reviews for “Suspense Magazine”, and writes for several newsletters and blogs. She, her husband, and a rescued feral cat named Agamemnon live together in Texas, near Austin. http://kayegeorge.com/

Blogs: http://travelswithkaye.blogspot.com/, her solo blog, and http://allthingswriting.blogspot.com/

Break into the ranks of the published.

Contests come and go, some are expensive, some are cheap, some are too big or small. But this contest for novelists seems like a good fit, if you’ve never been published.

Killer Nashville is a mystery convention in, of course, Nashville, Tennessee. I have no affiliation with them. But they are worth a look if you trying to get your novel manuscript in front of agents and editors. Here’s the link:

Killer Nashville Claymore Award.  Good luck!

“The Ark” by Boyd Morrison

The author of this thriller was handing out Advanced Readers Copies at Left Coast Crime in LA last month, and I snagged one after he gave me this pitch: “In eight days the hero must find Noah’s Ark or the world will be destroyed.” How to resist? All the makings of a good thriller, a tight time-line, coded messages, ancient secrets, and … a boy and a girl too beautiful for words! Boyd sold the book after many rejections, he told us at a panel, then offering it on his website and Amazon Kindle. It became a big seller on Kindle, attracting the attention of a publisher, and the rest, as they say, is history — and sales in eighteen foreign countries.

The plot is a potboiler, full of attacks on the manliest man you can imagine, an engineer with a Ph.D. (like the author), ex-Army Ranger (I didn’t ask the author but he does have a flat-top hairdo) and grieving widower. His sidekick is a beautiful archeologist whose father searched his whole life for Noah’s Ark. The writing, and plotting, suffers from some common first-time novelists problems like protagonists that are just too perfect and slow patches that should be exciting. Morrison has some work to do on his action sequences if he wants to write novels, not screenplays. Or maybe I’m just not that excited about the descriptions of gunplay, gadgets, and gargantuan trucks. There was one point where the hero goes down into a dark, dank cave and I thought to myself: He left out the snakes… and the fear of snakes! Not sure if I’d read a novel about Indiana Jones but at least he had flaws.

That said, it was intriguing and kept my interest up, much like The DaVinci Code. Sort of a cross between DaVinci, Dirk Pitt, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, right down to the melting flesh. “The Ark” comes out in May, just in time for the beach.