Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When the student is ready, the teacher appears

In the midst of writing. And found this. Maybe it's time for you to read it, too.

Learning the Characters (Yue Liang — The Moon) by Koeeoaddi

My hand,
stiff as horsehair
falters and balks.

"The moon," he tells me
and draws the lines.
Listen to me.

I grind the ink,
look into the wet black slab
but see no sky.
I worry my hand
across the page
the sun fastened tight
to obstinate dusk.

"Watch" he insists.
His lesson forms
in rock and light.
I retrace his strokes,
and he smiles —
my crude moon
climbs a crumpled sky.

But later
alone at my desk,
I sketch the spiny shadow
of the asparagus fern,
a cat on the sill
looking into the night

And the moon blooms
like an orchid
my astonished brush.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Take the Challenge!

An amazing event is happening on Jungle Red, my group blog. It's the brainchild of Jan Brogan, who has thrown down the gauntlet to all of you writers out there. It's a fantastic idea, and I have signed right up! Come join us!

Tweet about it using the hasthtag #JRWriteFirst --see you there!

JAN: If you are a writer, the Internet is both your best friend and your mortal enemy. Need to find an expert or see what a Glock looks like?? The info is only minutes away by Google.

But sometimes, all that time you save goes down the drain in lost productivity. In terms of writing (not promotion) that would be Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Here's the challenge:For six weeks, starting tomorrow, you must write one, full page every day -- even Saturday and Sunday -- BEFORE checking email or visiting anywhere online. That's the critical part. You can get online as soon as you finish your one page, but no sooner. If you have to check email at work in the morning, the challenge can start as soon as you come home. You are not allowed to go back to the Internet for ANY reason until you write that one page.

Why one page?
Because if you only wrote one page a day for an entire year, you'd have a novel.
Because when I gave myself a five-page-a-day quota, I found myself writing drivel, just to get the pages done.
Because with with a one page quota, you have time to go back and revise earlier pages.
Sometimes they bulk up, lengthwise, to create an extra page. (and yes, that counts as a new page.)
Because one page is eminently doable.
Because even on the weekends, you can get yourself to sit down at the computer if it's ONLY one page. And the consistency of a writing every day enhances productivity in terms of story structure.
Because one page often leads to another. In other words, one page is the minimum, not the maximum.

Why now?
Because for many of us, August is the least productive month of the year. (hey, and I'm even going to do this on vacation)
Challenging yourself in January when is snowing outside is no challenge.

Why six weeks?
Because after six weeks, we'll all have 42 pages. If you are starting a novel, that's about where you'd end on a hook, so you'll have enough material to send it to the agent/editor with a query.
If you are writing short stories -- that's at least two of them.
Because I host the blog every six weeks.

Why do you really want to do this?Aside from becoming a more disciplined writer and an all around superior person, we're also giving away prizes.

No cheating:

One page is defined as the FULL page, double spaced.
If, by any chance, you are writing a screenplay, you can still do the challenge, but that's TWO AND HALF pages a day for you.

How to enter?

Sign into the comments page on Jungle Red ( any time through Sunday (okay Monday for you procrastinators).
Report in (via the comments page) every Sunday.
Tell us anything, your obstacles, your solutions, your progress, the best sentence you wrote, or any tricks you've learned along the way.

Prizes:If you post at least three times (on different weeks), we enter your name in raffle and the winner gets a signed copy of Hallie Ephron's Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel. I will also read and critique your work, if you want. (you can forgo that prize if the idea of critique stunts your productivity. It's your choice.)

There's also second and third prizes, as well as a prize for the most inspired, insightful or helpful comment.

In no particular order, those prizes will be signed copies of:
Teaser (Jan Brogan)
Dead Head (Rosemary Harris),
Air Time (Hank Phillippi Ryan) (Agatha and Anthony nominee!)
Asking for Murder (Roberta Isleib)

JAN: The challenge technically ends Saturday September 18th and you have all weekend until 5 p.m. Sunday on the 19th to post your comments. I'll be drawing and deciding winners one minute after 5 p.m.
I'll announce winners on Jungle Red September 20th.

So get started and good luck!!

The Women of Jungle Red - Jan Brogan, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hallie Ephron, Roberta Isleib, Rhys Bowen and Rosemary Harris.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Latest

Wow--can you believe summer is almost half over? I prefer to look at it as--we have another whole half of summer left! Right? Half-full. Not half-empty.

Talk about full--the Festival of Mystery in Oakmont this year was beyond standing room only. (Yes, it was in May. So, it takes me a bit longer than you might predict to post photos. La dee dah.)The folks at Mystery Lovers Bookshop went all out--and mystery authors and readers flocked to get books signed. (I must say the whole thing was irresistible. And I bought waaay too many books. Wait--is there such a thing?) Anyway: it looked like this:

And here's me. You can see what fun it was. (Thanks to the wonderful Steve Bucci for these photos!) Hope to see you there next year--click here for all the info on MLB.

And soon after--oh wait--was it before? (Some days I'm not quite sure what day it is, doest that happen to you?( Anyway, I was chief judge for the Mary Higgins Clark Awards, part of the prestigious Edgar Awards from Mystery Writers of America. (Got that?) Here's the awards party: with Laura Lippman , me in the leopard skirt, and in the middle, Mary Higgins Clark herself. A perfect gorgeous classy and talented lady. A true star. (You can see, somehow she got all the light. I think that's the Mary magic.)
More pictures to come! See you soon...And I have new luggage tags in honor of AIR TIME! If you'd like me to send you one, click on contact in the blog header--and let me know! Keep cool, you all. It's about a million degrees here in Boston...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Award Nominations!

Hurray! I'm delighted to announce AIR TIME has been nominated for an Anthony Award! And Also "On the House" for the Anthony for Best Short Story.
And hurray--"On the House" has also been nominated for a Macavity! Thank you to all those who read and voted for the story, and congratulations to all the nominees!

(HereI am signing "On the House" in Quarry at Crimebake with fellow Quarry authors Nancy Gardner and Hollis Seamon (Winner of the Al Blacnchard award! Go Hollis!)

Recipients will be announced at Bouchercon, San Francisco, at the Macavity/Mystery Readers International event on Thursday, October 14. The Anthony Awards brunch is on Sunday, October 17 in the Grand Ballroom at the Hyatt Regency.

Very exciting!

And just so you know, here are all the nominees. What a lineup! Congratulations to all.

Anthony nominees

THE LAST CHILD - John Hart [Minotaur Books]
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE - Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland [Quercus/Knopf]
THE BRUTAL TELLING - Louise Penny [Minotaur Books]
THE SHANGHAI MOON - S.J. Rozan [Minotaur Books]

THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE - Alan Bradley [Delacorte Press]
STARVATION LAKE - Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]
A BAD DAY FOR SORRY - Sophie Littlefield [Minotaur Books]
THE TWELVE/THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST - Stuart Neville [Harvill Secker/Soho Press]
IN THE SHADOW OF GOTHAM - Stefanie Pintoff [Minotaur Books]

BURY ME DEEP - Megan Abbott [Simon & Schuster]
TOWER - Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman [Busted Flush Press]
QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE - Max Allan Collins [Hard Case Crime]
STARVATION LAKE - Bryan Gruley [Touchstone]
DEATH AND THE LIT CHICK - G.M. Malliet [Midnight Ink]
AIR TIME - Hank Phillippi Ryan [Mira]

"Last Fair Deal Gone Down" - Ace Atkins, CROSSROAD BLUES [Busted Flush Press]
"Femme Sole" - Dana Cameron, BOSTON NOIR [Akashic Books]
"Animal Rescue" - Dennis Lehane, BOSTON NOIR [Akashic Books]
"On the House" - Hank Phillippi Ryan, QUARRY: Crime Stories by New England Writers [Level Best Books]
"Amapola" - Luis Alberto Urrea, PHOENIX NOIR [Akashic Books]

TALKING ABOUT DETECTIVE FICTION - P.D. James [Bodleian Library/Knopf]
THE LINE UP: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives - Otto Penzler, ed. [Little, Brown and Co]
HAUNTED HEART: The Life and Times of Stephen King - Lisa Rogak [Thomas Dunne Books]
DAME AGATHA'S SHORTS: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion - Elena Santangelo [Bella Rosa Books]
THE TALENTED MISS HIGHSMITH: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith - Joan Schenkar [St. Martin's Press]

Macavity Award Nominations

The Macavity Award is named for the "mystery cat" of T.S. Eliot (Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats). Each year the members of Mystery Readers International nominate and vote for their favorite mysteries in four categories.

Best Mystery Novel:

* Megan Abbott: Bury Me Deep (Simon & Schuster)
* Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman: Tower (Busted Flush Press)
* Deborah Crombie: Necessary as Blood (Wm. Morrow)
* Jo Nesbø: Nemesis (translated by Don Bartlett) (HarperCollins)
* Louise Penny: The Brutal Telling (Minotaur)
* S.J. Rozan: The Shanghai Moon (Minotaur)

Best First Mystery Novel:

* Alan Bradley: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Delacorte)
* Jamie Freveletti: Running from the Devil (Wm. Morrow)
* Sophie Littlefield: A Bad Day for Sorry (Minotaur)
* Stuart Neville: The Ghosts of Belfast (Soho Crime)
* Malla Nunn: A Beautiful Place to Die (Picador)

Best Mystery Nonfiction:

* John Buntin: L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City (Random House: Harmony Books)
* P.D. James: Talking about Detective Fiction (Alfred A. Knopf)
* Craig McDonald: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life (Bleak House Books)
* Otto Penzler, editor: The Line Up: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives (Little, Brown & Co)
* Laney Salisbury & Aly Sujo: Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art (Penguin Press)
* Elena Santangelo: Dame Agatha's Shorts: An Agatha Christie Short Story Companion (Bella Rosa Books)

Best Mystery Short Story:

* Ace Atkins: "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (Crossroad Blues, Busted Flush Press)
* Dana Cameron: "Femme Sole" (Boston Noir, Akashic Books)
* Jim Fusilli: "Digby, Attorney at Law" (AHMM, May 2009)
* Carolyn Hart: "Your Turn" (Two of the Deadliest, Harper)
* Hank Phillippi Ryan: "On the House" (Quarry: Crime Stories by New England Writers, Level Best Books)
* Marcus Sakey: "The Desert Here and the Desert Far Away" (Thriller 2: Stories You Just Can't Put Down, Mira)
* Luis Alberto Urrea: "Amapola" (Phoenix Noir, Akashic Books)

Sue Feder Historical Mystery:

* Rebecca Cantrell: A Trace of Smoke (Forge)
* Stefanie Pintoff: In the Shadow of Gotham (Minotaur)
* Charles Todd: A Duty to the Dead (Wm. Morrow)
* Jeri Westerson: Serpent in the Thorns (Minotaur)
* Jacqueline Winspear: Among the Mad (Henry Holt)

Congratulations to all the nominees! See you in San Francisco.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two Agatha Nominations!

So thrilling!

AIR TIME is among the Agatha Award nominees for BEST MYSTERY of 2009!

I'm so honored to share the spotlight with

Swan for the Money by Donna Andrews (St. Martin’s Minotaur)
Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett (Berkley Prime Crime)

Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen (Berkley Prime Crime)

A Brutal Telling by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

What a group!

But wait--there's more.

My short story "On The House" is also nominated for an Agatha!

And also nominated are the amazing:

“Femme Sole” by Dana Cameron, Boston Noir (Akashic Books)

“Handbaskets, Drawers and a Killer Cold” by Kaye George, Crooked ezine

“The Worst Noel” by Barb Goffman, The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press)

Death Will Trim Your Tree” by Elizabeth Zelvin, The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press)

Can you figure out what will happen in On The House? (Available now from Level Best Books.)

When true love goes wrong—a woman's best friend may be her dog. Or—not.

Will you be able to predict what happens?

READ IT! here. And then let me know. (You'll see what I mean at the end ...)

And my very best wishes to all the nominess! Hope to see all of you at Malice Domestic in May!