Friday, July 14, 2017

Author! Author! CARROLL S. POE

Hello again and welcome to another edition of Author! Author! wherein I introduce you to some of my writer pals. Not all my pals are mystery or crime authors, but I'm always thrilled when someone is because, despite the sudden flood of people trying to break into the mystery genre, it's not as easy as I make it look. AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT? ;-)

C. S. Poe doesn't only write mystery and suspense, but that's where she's really making a name for herself. I first met Carroll...well, honestly, I'm not sure. IT'S A MYSTERY. No, seriously, we interacted for a couple of years online and then I finally met her in person on Catalina Island a few months ago. WHAT HAPPENS IN CATALINA STAYS IN CATALINA. That is all.

Without further adieu, Meet my criminous little pal, Miz Poe.

Do you have a favorite cocktail? Can you share the recipe?

CSP - Not really. I usually stick with Whiskey Ginger or just whiskey neat.

Uh huh. We'll let that pass. What happens in Catalina stays in Catalina. So...why mysteries? What attracted you to a life of crime?

CSP - There's a thrill obtained from the uncertainty of a mystery that is unique. Who did it? Why? How does it end? Will the protagonist survive? The questions we, or at least myself, ask with a good mystery, build up a sort of adrenaline. We get to piece together clues, uncover an enigma and settle our innate curiosity to know more, all while building a sort of one-on-one relationship with the hero.
On more of a writer's level, I love how a hunt and the unknown propel a plot forward. Plus, I have a tendency to toss a lot of history into my books (great random facts for small talk at a party, try them sometime!) and when a mystery deals with murderous crimes, stolen items, etc., it's just begging for some sort of historical oddity to be inserted for good measure.

Standalone versus series. What do you prefer as a writer? How about as a reader?

CSP - As a writer, I like series more. But, but, but! I can admit when a book doesn't NEED to be a series and is quite capable of standing on its own. As a reader, I love a series that follows the same characters.

Yeah, they both have their pros and cons. Speaking of pros -- and cons -- is it true that your day job is bouncer for a night club? Why not? You look so young and innocent you'd be able to get the drop on drunks before they ever saw you coming. 

CSP - I can never get work as a bouncer because the clubs just keep carding me! Remember when the waiter on Catalina carded me? Everyone laughed. LAUGHED! But I'd be a great bouncer. Tiny but fierce.

I agree, Mighty Mouse. And also the money is better in bouncing, from what I understand. What do you think is the most important thing to remember when creating fully-realized main characters?

CSP - Rhys Ford said it perfectly, in that, 'sometimes people do things.' It's critical to remember--romance book or not-- that characters should have limitations and flaws. They are human and should act as such, and sometimes that means a character has to make the wrong choice in order to find themselves, learn a lesson, or win the guy in the end. Sometimes people do things.

Fun fact. Rhys was my first Author! Author! interview. Or maybe that was ZAM? Because she completed her homework first? But anyway, Rhys was one of the first, if not the first. So anyway, fashion magazines always ask this critical question: What is the one cosmetic or grooming tool you cannot live without? And do you have any idea why all these fashion models are always pretending the one tool they can't live without is their EYEBROW GROOMER?

CSP - In the magazine's defense, every time I see someone with wacky, out of control eyebrows that are attempting to crawl up their forehead, I kind of want to comb them.

How do you deal with the criticism that is part and parcel of any job in the arts?

CSP - Art is meant to move an individual. Whether I moved a reader to five star or one star, I did my job as an author. I touched them deeply enough that they were encouraged to say something. So as long as the science of my writing is firm (that being grammar, structure, the understanding and ability to build a cohesive plot) there is nothing for me to get upset about. Not every piece of art moves us in the same way.

So. True. And speaking of reviews and reviewers, have you ever broken a bone? Have you ever broken anyone else's bones? You must have because your day job is bouncer. Have any of your victims sued you?

CSP - My left wrist. I didn't keep it straight when I cold-cocked an ornery dancer being tossed from the club! What can I say, rookie mistake. ;)

Haha. I knew it! As I said to S.C. Wynne when we were watching you knock back those Whiskey Gingers, I bet she's broken that wrist cold-cocking customers! Ahem. Is there any genre you'd like to tackle but you're kinda sorta afraid?

CSP - I don't think so. I'm partial to mystery, contemporary romance, and paranormal (including Steampunk), so I write those. I am a selective reader of fantasy and sci-fi, but could never write those genres, especially sci-fi. My brain isn't wired for that, so I applaud authors who excel in those genres specifically.

One thing readers of this blog just can't get enough of are funny stories about food allergies. Can you share any amusing near death experiences brought on by a food allergy?

CSP - Mrs. White did it in the kitchen with the poison!

LOL. EXACTLY. So. What are the elements that make a C. S. Poe book unique? What do you consider your strengths as a writer?

CSP - Dry humor, witty dialogue, useless facts, and dead bodies often found in unfortunate circumstances. What? It's true. Has anyone read The Mystery of the Curiosities? I put bodies everywhere in that book. Like it was some kind of competition! In all seriousness, I think as a writer I am adept at snappy dialogue and weaving more than one genre together successfully, in most cases that being mysteries and romances.

 How many cats do you currently own? Are you in danger of becoming a cat lady? What about becoming Cat Woman? Crime may not pay, but it pays better than writing. Agree or disagree? Show your math.

CSP - Let's see... 3 cats, divided by my current age, plus the number of cats I wish I owned, equals the value of Faberge's long lost third Imperial Egg from 1887. That'd make me a millionaire if I took to a life of crime and cat-napped it. So I agree.

:-D :-D :-D What are you working on right now? What's coming out next?

CSP - I'm wrapping up edits on Southernmost Murder and writing Snow & Winter 3, but the next release is actually a holiday, contemporary romance called Color of You.

Are you religious? Would you be religious if you were falling off a cliff? What if you were pushed? 

CSP - *slowly backs away from cliff and gives Josh a wide berth.* I've got my eye on you, lady.

*Looks innocent while whistling aimlessly.* Tell us something surprising. Anything. Go on. Surprise us!

CSP - One time I crashed my bike while I was parked.

:-D :-D :-D There you have it, folks. The REAL C. S. Poe. You can find out more about Carroll and her work on her website and her Facebook page -- Oh! AND she's doing this really cool thing right here.  I think you might even want to kick in.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Blind Side playlist

Next up on the writing schedule is Blind Side, Book six in the Dangerous Ground series. It's been a while since I've written  anything about former DSS agents William Brandt and Taylor MacAllister, but I'm currently listening to Point Blank, which is the entire series collected in audio and narrated by Derrick McClain, and it's proving a very helpful refresher.

Since the series was already in audio (narrated by the wonderfully talented Adrian Bisson), you might be wondering why I decided to re-record it, and I suppose it's like remaking a favorite movie. Just because you have a great version, doesn't mean that you wouldn't enjoy another director's take or seeing another actor play the part of some beloved character. I like Derrick's work a lot and I thought it would be interesting to see what he brought to the series. I'm really enjoying listening, and I think you will too.

Meanwhile, here's the blurb for Blind Side.

With resources already overstretched, the last thing Will and Taylor need is another client.

And the last thing Will needs is for that client to turn out to be an old boyfriend of Taylor's.

But Ashe Dekker believes someone is trying to kill him, and Taylor is determined to help--whatever the cost.

Safe to say there will be some heartbreak this time around, but Will kind of brought it on himself. ;-)

And here's the playlist...


Hello, Hurricane - Switchfoot

No, I Won't Back Down - Tom Petty

It is What it Is - Lifehouse

Scar that Never Heals - Jeremy Fisher

Run Down a Dream - Petty

Runaway Train - Soul Asylum

Trying Not to Love You - Nickelback

Where I Come From - Lifehouse

History - One Direction

Hurricane - Lifehouse

Something I Need - OneRepublic

Meanwhile, I don't have a firm release date for Point Blank in audio or even Blind Side, to be honest. After the fiasco of The Monet Murders release I'm a little skittish about preorders. But I'll keep you posted! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy Fourth of July!

Every year the SO and I host a Fourth of July swim party and BBQ. Some years we've gotten pretty fancy with the menu -- one year it was slabs and slabs of ribs, one year lobster tails -- but this year we're opting for good old-fashioned hot dogs and hamburgers with all the trimmings. That way we can enjoy the fun too and not spend the whole time cooking and serving.

We always serve root beer floats for dessert because that's what my parents did when we were kids. :-)  Tradition is nice, so long as you're not strangled by it.

Anyway, if you're in the States, here's to a happy and safe Fourth of July!


Friday, June 30, 2017

Like a Nightingale Without a Song to Sing...

I'd say that I have spring fever, but I know it isn't spring.
Good morning!

It's been a while since I posted, and while I may go back and fill in some of those blank spots with some fun stuff, I thought perhaps it was time for a bit of a catching up.

June was...well, a really weird month. I think the early half of the year, with all the drama and trauma -- puppy rescue, writing conference, spills down hillsides, crazy deadlines -- caught up with me, and BOOM. I was visiting the doctor on a follow-up to the back injury and when they took my blood pressure it was high. Rather alarmingly high. In a way it hasn't been for years and years. Not since I walked away from being an evil corporate overlord with a huge corner office and the daily tirades/conference calls to go with it.

Nor did my pressure get better when the nurse cried, "Jesus Christ!!" and then took it three more times in a row. In fact, it continued to climb. (Unsurprisingly, IMHO.)

Anyway, the doctor and I had a chat and I confessed that my anxiety is sort of -- well, totally -- out of control. About things both great and small. For example, Marlowe the Mutt had his little doggie surgery the day before my doctor's appointment, and I was convinced he was going to die during the surgery. Which is just weird. I've had many dogs and a lot of them have had much, much serious medical emergencies than a routine neutering, and I always assumed the dog would be fine. And usually the dog WAS fine.

And Marlowe was fine too.

You've got me...who's got YOU?
It was not instinct or premonition. It was simply out-of-control anxiety. And I'm only partly kidding when I say I blame a lot of it on world events. I think the fact that a country like ours could elect someone like der Trump -- however or why ever it happened-- to the highest office in the land has really shaken my faith in my fellow Americans' commonsense and decency. It has shaken my faith that things usually turn out okay in the end. (Not that this is the end, and not that I want to get political, but this is the reality: our blimp is on fire and a vulgar, pathologically neurotic,  buffoonish madman is at the helm. Personally, I think anxiety is the reasonable and normal response.)

So the doctor and I chatted, with the end result that he prescribed Xanax. I dutifully filled the prescription, but did not take it. What I'm doing, what I've been doing for the past few weeks, is just...resting. Staying off line. Avoiding the news. Reading for Mr. and Mrs. Murder (the non-fiction book on pre-1960s husband and wife sleuthing teams the SO and I have contracted with McFarland), walking and swimming and even occasionally napping. I'm consciously working to Calm the Hell Down.

And I am calmer. I'm answering email again--slowly--and getting ready to write once more (next up BLIND SIDE: DANGEROUS GROUND 6). I've lost weight, I'm sleeping better, my blood pressure is down--oh, and my puppy is healthy and happy, although he has taken to barking at the SO when he tries to enter the boudoir at night.

I've been thinking a lot about happiness. What does it really mean? Am I happy? If you're not UNhappy are you, by default, happy? And if you have time to wonder whether you're happy or not, doesn't it indicate you're too damned pampered and should be sent to the nearest work camp? What about Joy? What's the difference between happiness and joy? Does it matter outside of deciding which to use in a sentence? If I decided I didn't want to keep writing, what else might I do? Should I have kept teaching? And on it goes. I've been thinking about the future. The SO and I live a comfortable life--but we have very little saved for the future OR for the kind of medical emergency that used to destroy families -- and soon will again, if things continue the way they're going. Who knew old age was a preexisting condition!?

I mean, on the other hand, this is how it's always been for writers. Since when did I need or want a safety net?

Anyway, aside from a surplus of thinky-thoughts, everything is okay. I'm avoiding making new commitments though. I'm not making any promises and I'm not creating pre-orders beyond those already existing. Personally and professionally, I'm just taking things one day at a time.

So that was June. Half the year gone, baby, gone. It's going to be interesting to see what happens with the rest of 2017.

What about you? What do you think? Is the year going the way you thought? Better? Worse? Sideways?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

New Release - THE MONET MURDERS (Art of Murder Book II)

So, remember when I mentioned falling off a mountain (okay, it was just a little mountain, but still) and had to push the release of The Monet Murders back another month because I'd injured my back and was medicated and things were really not going well?

Well, I did finally manage to finish the book and it released yesterday. That's the good news. The bad news is, in my panic to get the file uploaded before the deadline, I somehow (see above: two kinds of prescription pain medications were in play) grabbed the wrong damned file. And because I'd already waited to the last minute, there was no way of updating until the book went live.

Which it did. Missing about 15,000 words. And necessary words, at that.

The correct version is available on Smashwords, Kobo...and shortly Nook and iBooks, but it sounds like it's still going to be another (possibly) 24 hours before the correct edition is live on Amazon. Which means roughly 3000 people got that wrong version.

This is embarrassing. I CANNOT APOLOGIZE ENOUGH. I am sincerely sorry. I know how disappointing it is when you've been waiting and waiting and waiting and then the thing you've been waiting for arrives broken in the box.

(And, by the way, thank you to those of you who have been so very kind and understanding about the mix-up. My first ever mix-up, I want to point out, in all these years and all those books. )

Most of the people who pre-ordered through Amazon will not see this post, or any of my other posts on social media, so...if you should hear someone cursing my name down through the ages, it would be very kind of you to let them know what's happening. If their Kindle account is not set for automatic updates, it's unlikely they'll know to click that Updates Available button.



The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI special agent with the Art Crime Team, wants—or needs—is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.
And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.


For a time he was occupied in playing shuffleboard with the buses and delivery trucks and taxis clogging the crowded streets, but inevitably his thoughts circled back to the passenger in the seat beside him.
Given how irate Jason had been at being conscripted into Kennedy’s investigation, it was odd that what he mostly felt now was a sense of letdown, even disappointment, that Kennedy would not be returning.
But wasn’t it normal that his feelings should be confused? The situation was just…so strange. All those months. And when they finally did get together…
Worse than nothing. It was like they had never met. Never made lov— Oh, hell no. Not that. Never had sex. That’s what he meant.
His anger faded, leaving him depressed, disheartened. What the hell had happened to change everything? He just couldn’t understand it. He was baffled.
Yeah. Baffled.
The traffic lurched to a sudden standstill. Jason’s phone vibrated. He ignored it. Around them, a few impatient drivers vented their frustration with honks, but the seconds continued to tick by. Pedestrians in every size, shape, and color crowded the sidewalk beside them, darting around the cones and sawhorses and hoses of the workmen tearing up the pavement with jackhammers. The pound of the pneumatic drills was not as loud as the silence stretching between himself and Kennedy.
In disbelief, Jason heard his own voice—hesitant, slightly strained—break the silence.
“Look. Did I…do something?”
“No,” Kennedy said at once. And that was a relief. A relief that Kennedy did him the courtesy of not pretending he didn’t understand. In fact, it was as if he had been sitting there thinking the same thing as Jason. “It isn’t you. It’s nothing you’ve done or didn’t do.”
He didn’t elaborate, though, so Jason—who already felt like he was out on a very flimsy limb—had to stretch still further.
“Because I don’t understand.” Excruciating to have to put this into words. His face felt hot, and his heart was pounding as though this was a high-risk situation. He was not used to it. Not used to…caring so much. It wasn’t that he’d never been turned down before or even been dumped. It always stung, but it hadn’t hurt. Not really. Not like this.
Kennedy didn’t answer immediately, and Jason couldn’t bear the silence.
“Is it the promotion? Are you thinking that I would somehow trade on our friendship? Or that other people might think I was trading on our friendship?”
“No,” Kennedy said, again adamant. “I don’t think that. And I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks.”
So what the hell was it? Because he was not wrong, not imagining things. Kennedy was confirming it was over. But he wasn’t telling him why, and that really was the part Jason needed to understand. They’d talked two weeks ago, and there had been no hint that everything was not…
Was not what?
Okay? Fine? Normal? None of that applied. They’d had a long-distance relationship that was more like phone tag. In other words, they’d had nothing.
And kudos to Kennedy for recognizing that fact and breaking it off.
Although this was more like passive resistance than breaking it off. But whatever. Over. Done. Finito. Let it go, West. It only gets more embarrassing from here.
A couple of excruciatingly long seconds passed while he tried to think of a way to change the subject, scrabble to the solid ground of…anything, for the love of God. How about them Cubs?
The traffic ahead of them crept forward, and Jason eased off the brake, letting the Dodge roll a couple of inches.
Because I care about you, Jason. More than I thought I could.
His eyes blurred.
Jesus Fucking Christ. Was he about to cr—tear up over this? No way. And sure as hell not when Kennedy was sitting right beside him. For God’s sake.
Kennedy said suddenly, “I…like you. Nothing has changed.”
Right. Except everything.
Jason made a sound in the back of his throat that was supposed to be…not what it sounded like. Which made him angry and enabled him to get out a terse, “Right.”
“But it isn’t…practical to try to…” Kennedy was picking words as painstakingly as somebody gathering shards of glass. “It’s not enough to…build on.”
Wow. Maybe he was misremembering, but getting shot three times hadn’t hurt this much. And anyway, what the hell did that mean? It’s not like Jason had been pushing for more. He had accepted Sam’s terms. Not that Sam had really given him terms.
He wanted to say something to the effect of what he had said in Kingsfield: Whatever. It was just supposed to be a fucking date.
But of course it wasn’t just a date. Not anymore. Somehow they had managed to move beyond that never-to-be date to something more. Something deeper. And yet less concrete than even a date.
It made no sense for him to sit here like his heart was breaking when they didn’t even know each other. It was ridiculous. Pathetic.
“It’s okay,” he said flatly. “You’re right.”
He felt Kennedy look at him, but he kept staring straight ahead. He shrugged.
“I should have told you sooner,” Kennedy said. “Made my position clear.” Had it been anyone but Sam Kennedy, Jason would have said there was guilt—regret?—in his tone. “But I like talking to you.”
“Yeah. Well.” He was relieved his voice had steadied again, because inside he was a churning mess of confused emotion. Mostly pain. “I liked talking to you too.”

Neither of them had anything to say after that, and the nearby crush and crash of broken cement filled the distance between them.

Buy it!
Barnes and Noble
Amazon (but maybe you should wait until tomorrow -- seriously)

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Oh My Aching Back!

These might actually work
I'm way behind in updates and people are starting to get alarmed, so here's the update: I'm much better both mentally and physically. (Hopefully I didn't just jinx my recovery.)

Basically, I was recovering from that painful bout of sciatica (or so I thought) but progress seemed to be slow--I had this really awful limp if I walked any distance--and I thought I probably needed to push myself a bit more. Activity is actually good for sciatica. So is strengthening your core. I figured I needed a lot more of both. Which is how after a day of swimming, gardening and kung fu exercises I ended up in the emergency room.

That was a surreal experience. Happily, the memory is pretty foggy. Essentially, they were unable to help me. The injection they gave for pain had--I'm not exaggerating--zero effect. The pills they gave for pain, inflammation, spasm...were all ineffective. I could not eat, sleep or stay in one position for more than thirty seconds, and that went on for days. Three days, to be exact. I had three days of--again, not exaggerating--sheer agony before I was finally able to get in and see a GP.

Continental Plate?
The long and the short of it is three days of physical therapy a week for the next month and pain killers that actually work--but leave me mentally fuzzy (which is not optimum when you earn your living writing). I can eat, sleep, sit and even walk again. In fact, thanks to years of yoga and kung fu, I'm actually pretty flexible and still have excellent range of motion (to the astonishment of my physical therapist who says the patch of inflammation stretching from my back to my hip is as big as a continental plate).

There's nothing life-threatening here and I honestly feel silly even talking about it, except that my sudden disappearance needs some explanation.

Because sitting is really bad for sciatica, I'm using my chair time for writing--and basically abandoning all social media for now. Some lovely friends are filling in for me on my Facebook wall with great posts about writing and reading mysteries, and I know my Goodreads group always has lots to chat about whether I'm there or not. I'm not really responding to email right now.

That's where things stand at the moment. Marlowe the Evil Mastermind Puppy is doing great--he took advantage of my weakened state to start sleeping with us, but that's okay--The Monet Murders is coming along, slowly but surely, which is how I'm coming along. Slowly but surely.

1222222222222222222222222222qww (That's Marlowe signing off for both of us till the next time.)


Friday, April 21, 2017

Tall Timbers Falling

Last month I was hiking with friends at Vasquez Rocks and I slipped and fell. Ungracefully and painfully. It seemed like the only damage was a badly sprained right ankle, but it looks like I might have done a bit more harm than I realized.

Anyway, for the past two weeks...well, I guess three weeks since it coincided with the arrival of Marlowe the Mutt, and he's been dogging (ha!) my footsteps for nearly a month now...I've been suffering from sciatica. Which is really, seriously unpleasant because it hurts to sit (which makes typing difficult) and hurts even worse to lie down (which makes sleep largely impossible for more than a couple of hours at a time). So it's been hellish, although I realize as health issues go, it's minor.

Cutting straight to the chase, I've had to push back The Monet Murders again -- for the final time, I assure you -- which I am very sorry about. Not least because my finances rely on sticking to deadlines. But there are some things that just can't be bulldozed through, and it turns out that this is one of them. I don't want to crank out a book when I'm sleep-deprived and unable to fully concentrate--even if it was physically possible, which at this point, it isn't.

So that's that. The book will now be out May 25th.

In other news, Marlowe the Mutt continues to thrive and grow. Well, he's not growing much, but he is thriving, and he's pretty darned adorable, if I do say so. When I first scooped him out of that canine hell, my sciatica was at maximum misery level, and I can't deny that I did think I'd probably made a mistake but too late to turn back now. Not a joyous thought, to be honest. It turns out I was wrong because we love the little monster dearly, and if you're going to be in pain anyway, you might as well have something to distract you.

I've had to rearrange my schedule considerably. Mornings are now spent taking MtM outside and then feeding and playing with him (he is partial to chasing his squeaky stuffed raccoon toy up and down the staircase at top speed) ..and from there coffee on the patio seems a fairly natural move (and so much more pleasant than diving into email, though, frankly, that mental adjustment took some doing). I've been trying to swim a bit although it's a bit chilly right now. Supposedly the best thing is to keep moving, gentle stretches, etc.

Patience. A hard word to live by.

So that's where we are. The day before yesterday I bought some roses and tea lights and odds and ends for the garden. Yesterday I started catching up on email. Last night I actually slept through the entire night, so maybe the tide has turned. It's possible life is getting back to normal. Fingers crossed.