Miranda’s Back!

Book Cover to CITY OF SECRETSToday is the day!

CITY OF SECRETS is now on sale.

This long-awaited sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS is a deeply felt, personal book, and it deals with themes that have haunted me for a long time. Themes of man’s inhumanity to man, themes that  unfortunately still exist and are as relevant today as they were more than seventy years ago.

Miranda Corbie—my hardboiled, broken idealist of a protagonist—is hired by a surprise client to investigate the murder of Pandora Blake, a girl she barely knew but who, like all the girls who worked Treasure Island’s Gayway in flesh shows, was a soul she’d sworn to protect.

Pandora was a girl with stars in her eyes, dreaming of her name on a Hollywood Marquee. Like many pretty girls—in 1940 and 2011—those dreams crashed against reality. She found herself working as a nude model at the World’s Fair, object of desire for the daily stream of men who paid 25 cents a piece to snap her photo.

On May 25th, opening day of the 1940 World’s Fair, she’s found nude on the stage she worked on, stabbed to death … a filthy, anti-Semitic epithet scrawled in blood on her white skin.

CITY OF SECRETS exposes American anti-Semitism on many levels, from a domestic terror group that plotted to kill Jews in New York to the clubs and housing developments that denied them entry in San Francisco. It, and all other forms of racism, sexism, homophobia and intolerance, are the supreme tragedy of human existence.

I hope you find the story fast-paced and thrilling, of course, that you keep turning the pages and step side-by-side with Miranda on her harrowing journey through a familiar yet unfamiliar City by the Bay. But I also hope CITY OF SECRETS helps you renew your commitment to a future where anti-Semitism and bigotry are truly relics of the distant past.

As always, thanks for reading — and your support!

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The Intimate Paperback

Today is a red-letter day for me … and Miranda Corbie! 😉

Miranda’s out in paperback for the first time, in a beautiful trade edition of CITY OF DRAGONS. This isn’t actually her debut in paperback—that came with the mass market paperback of FIRST THRILLS—but it is her first solo gig in softcover.

I love paperbacks. They’re informal, more intimate that a hardcover  … though of course I love hardbacks, too. They’re parental and solid, reassuring and stable. They’re the books you can depend on and reach for, time and again.

But paperbacks … well, paperbacks are kind of sexy.

They are, after all, the books you take to bed, covers bent backwards, with dog-eared pages and the spine weathered and lined. They accompany you to the beach, on planes, on vacations to sunnier climes, sporting water rings from the Mojito you just finished.

Paperbacks are a summer fling, a quick tryst in the ski lodge, a book to be devoured in a burst of passion.

Alas, comes the time for fall or spring cleaning, and many a paperback—torn, tattered, scarred and bent out of shape, old beyond its years—is sent off packing to Goodwill or a garage sale, banished from the vacation places it used to call home.

Of course, some readers actually save their paperbacks (bless you!), collect them, and keep them looking beautiful. I’ve always adored paperback cover art from the past—from lurid, sensationalistic covers to  Deco beauties to the famous Dell “Map Backs”—and add to my collection when money and opportunity permits.

I certainly hope the CITY OF DRAGONS trade paperback brings Miranda new admirers … whether they read it on a beach in a last hurrah for summer or take it on a plane trip or peruse it at home in a comfortable chair. The cover stock is nubby and textured, colors vibrant and warm, size pleasantly holdable … altogether, it looks like much more than a fling. 😉

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Shaken, Secrets and a Very Special Cat

I received some wonderful news yesterday—CITY OF DRAGONS has been nominated for a Macavity, specifically the Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery Award!

The Macavity is as wonderful as it gets, a recognition of your work from some of the most astute readers in the community: members of Janet Rudolph’s Mystery Readers International. I’m deeply honored to have Miranda’s debut novel nominated … and am especially tickled because when I was a kid I used to be able to recite by heart “Macavity, The Mystery Cat” (the poem by T.S. Eliot for which the award is named). I can still remember a few stanzas, so if you see me at a convention and ask me to recite—be forewarned! 😉

I’m also celebrating something else: a special effort by authors—an anthology of short stories—written and published and sold to raise money for Japan in the wake of its almost unimaginable calamity. The anthology is called SHAKEN: STORIES FROM JAPAN, and is currently available on Amazon for $3.99. The brainchild of author (and fellow Macavity nominee) Tim Hallinan, the book features 20 stories by 20 authors, many crime fiction favorites, with elegantly translated haikus interposed between the stories. Even the cover is designed by the multi-talented Gar Anthony Harwood. I’m proud of participating (my story is called “Coolie” and is set in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake); proud, too, of Amazon, for donating their share of the royalties: fully 100% of this book goes to help the people that need it. It feels so good to be able to help, even a little.

It’s hard to believe that July is almost upon us. CITY OF SECRETS will be hitting stories on September 13th, and I’m busy writing the third Miranda (working title is CITY OF GHOSTS) while preparing for the launch. My website will soon have all the bells and whistles I hope my readers have come to expect: a book trailer, video, photo gallery, sound track, inspirations and more. In the meantime, you can check the progress by going to the CITY OF SECRETS page and exploring the sub-menu.  I’m also looking forward to the paperback of CITY OF DRAGONS, which hits stores August 30th.

To celebrate the launch of Miranda’s second novel, I’ve written a special short story: “The Memory Book”. Set on Treasure Island during the World’s Fair, it takes place before CITY OF DRAGONS and after my previous short story, “Children’s Day.” I’ll have more news on the release soon.

Speaking of “Children’s Day, FIRST THRILLS has been out for over a month now, as a mass-market paperback. My first! And what a thrill it is, to see my short story in such stellar company! If you haven’t read this prequel to CITY OF DRAGONS, you can now read it FOR FREE on the ITW website: just go to The Big Thrill and click on the banner.

In the Roman part of my life, we’ve made NOX DORMIENDA newly available as an e-book! You can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Diesel, Sony and Smashwords for $3.99. I’m happy to see it back in pixel-print, and hope to have word on a paperback version before the end of the year.

I have a number of events coming up this summer … a trip to Yreka, CA and Ashland, Medford and Klamath Falls, Oregon, as part of the fabulous Ashland Mystery Readers Group Festival, now in its ninth year. I can’t wait to visit my old stomping grounds–I traveled to Ashland every year in high school, and it’s been way too long since I’ve been back!

I’ll also be speaking at the fabulous Desert Sleuth’s WRITE NOW! 2011 Conference in Scottsdale, AZ, with friends Sophie Littlefield and Juliet Blackwell … I can’t wait to see my fellow Sisters in Crime and the desert in all of its summer glory!

In the meantime, I’m writing … and writing … but will be back sooner rather than later with, I hope, some movie recommendations. Hope you all have a wonderful Independence Day, and thanks for sticking with me while I’m writing in the dark! 🙂 And congratulations to all the Macavity nominees!

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An Epiphany of Noir

Today marks Epiphany, the day after Twelfth Night, and in the words of the immortal Bard, “If Twitter be the food of writing, tweet on!”

January dawns in 2011, and it truly is a brave new world of social networking. Just four years ago all this checking in and updating and status reporting was strange and new, as much a figment as Hamlet’s ghost (bear with me—I’m trying to keep up the Shakespeare references here). And now … well, the first app that I added to my new HTC Hero smart phone (and yes, I love it) was Tweetdeck. I sometimes wonder at the familiarity—nay, indispensability!—of the technology that was the stuff that dreams are made on such a short time ago (see—I told you I’d bring up Shakespeare again).

So—luckily for me, since I’m more comfortable in the past when teens actually sulked and talked to each other, rather than sulked and texted—every January brings a little bit of old to mix with the new … and the best kind of old, at that.

Noir! Noir City. At the Castro Theater, in glorious black and white (with an occasional technicolor thrown in). The line up this year is particularly grand, and deals with a theme near and dear to most writers … insanity. After all, if we don’t write about it, we often live it … hearing voices in our heads, getting up at odd hours to scribble notes about ice pick wounds (that’s coming up in CITY OF SECRETS) … trying to juggle all the tweets and updates while working on multiple storylines, mumbling to ourselves when we walk down the street … er, maybe I should stop now.

Anyway, I’m really looking forward to seeing The Two Mrs. Carrolls (fabulous Bogart/Stanwyck film) and Beware, My Lovely on the big screen—along with the sublime performance by the late Jean Simmons in Angel Face. I’m buying a passport—I’ve got my citizenship papers—and will cram as many late night noir fests into my schedule as possible.

It’ll be tough because THE CURSE-MAKER launches February 1st, and then it’s book tour time … but at least I’ll get my annual Noir inoculation first. Forget the flu shot—get a noir shot!

Meanwhile, I’m ringing in the New Year in San Diego tomorrow, signing ARCS of THE CURSE-MAKER and copies of CITY OF DRAGONS for the wonderful librarians at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference! I’ll also be part of a mystery writer contingent with some good friends at Mysterious Galaxy tomorrow night—come by if you’re in the area! Saturday morning I sign in the great cavern of the San Diego convention center, then 2 PM will be moderating a panel of very cool “Tough Guys”: T. Jefferson Parker, Ken Kuhlken, Timothy Hallinan, and Gary Philips. So much to look forward to!

In the meantime, I just want to thank you all for reading—my blog, my books, and the books of so many outstanding writers throughout the year of 2010. I’ve been very lucky with the response to CITY OF DRAGONS, and I’m blessed to be able to publish two novels this year. [That’s a sneak peek at CITY OF SECRETS, releasing in September]

May 2011 shower you with good fortune, a gentle spirit, kind thoughts—and crime fiction! 🙂

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The Big Thank You!

Huge thanks to RT Book Review and their reviewers, for nominating CITY OF DRAGONS for a 2010 Reviewers Choice Award in Historical Mystery!

I’m honored to be in the company of Jeri Westerson, Rhys Bowen, Charles Todd, and Deanne Raybourn, and am looking forward to attending the RT Book Convention in April (my first!)

It’s hard to believe that November is here–especially with summer temperatures in Giants-loving, World Series winner San Francisco. Boy, typing those words felt good! 😉

October flew by on a supersonic broomstick. First there was Litcrawl, which was a load of fun–Michelle Gagnon, Simon Wood, Julianne Balmain and Seth Harwood and I all read from our books for “Mystery and Mayhem” at the Mission District Police Station. Wonderful crowd for the festival!

Bouchercon by the Bay was an incredible experience. I am awed every year by the sheer amount of dedication, time, energy and passion that Bcon volunteers bring to this event, and continually amazed at the miracle they make happen. San Francisco was an exceptional Bouchercon–and the City’s weather cooperated and played nice.

I was busy from Thursday morning (a guest at the Bouchercon newbie’s breakfast) through very late Thursday night (with a very cool Subterranean Noir Manifesto event in North Beach, through Peter Maravelis and the celebrated City Lights Bookstore).

Friday through Sunday zoomed by. I greatly enjoyed moderating a panel on books to movies (with the incomparable Val McDermid and terrific panelists Paul Levine, Derek Haas and Alexandra Sokoloff); was honored to be a panelist on the “San Francisco Noir Panel” moderated by Peter, with fabulous writers Domenic Stansberry, Lisa Lutz, David Corbett, and the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller, all of whom were also part of the Noir Manifesto evening; met a ton of wonderful readers, spent some time with friends and colleagues and rooted for award-nominated pals; and did all the stuff authors usually do at Bouchercon–except for the bar. I came home before midnight, like a good girl.

Once it was over, I caught the post-Bouchercon virus–and have spent the last few weeks fighting the typical nasty cough, sore throat, etc. etc. I’m almost back to normal. Watched a lot of movies in the meantime–and can’t recommend DEAD OF NIGHT, a 1945 classic by the British Ealing Studios, highly enough. Not a noir, just a great horror movie.

In the meantime, the GIANTS won, my galleys of THE CURSE-MAKER arrived, and I’ve been in the midst of plans for a brand-new (and very content-rich) website, launching soon–complete with prizes and a party!

On November 20th, I’ll be stepping away from pressing deadlines to read at the recently-restored Sunset Branch library in San Francisco, with authors Mark Coggins, Deborah Grabien, Michelle Richmond, Mary Germaine Hountalas, and Lois Ungaretti. The theme is “West Side Stories: Mystery and History.”

Thanks for reading Writing in the Dark, and stay tuned for updates on the new website … it’s shaping up to be quite a springy fall! 🙂

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Bouchercon Comes to San Francisco!

In just three short weeks the city of San Francisco will be overrun by people thinking about murder.

In a good way! 😉

Bouchercon, the world’s largest crime fiction event, is coming to Hammett’s city. Writers, readers, editors, agents, librarians, book collectors, book stores … it’s a giant festival of crime (writing), right here in my home.

If you like mystery–and you live anywhere in the Bay Area–try not to miss it. The cast list is huge, and the events will knock your socks off.

Bouchercon is extra-special to me. My first large conference (in October, 2007, almost a year before my debut book was released) was in Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve written before about how much that seminal experience taught me; how it focused me on taking the plunge into writing the book that would become CITY OF DRAGONS.

Bouchercon also served as my introduction to the crime fiction family at large … and being a part of that family is truly the best part of being a writer. I dedicated CITY OF DRAGONS to my initiatory Alaskan experience, and I’m looking forward to another spectacular and special time right here in my own backyard, complete with Bertie, who gets to play Toto. 😉

BTW, Bouchercon is pronounced “Bow-cher-con”. I knew it originated with Anthony Boucher, a prolific mystery writer from the 40s who also used to review for our very own San Francisco Chronicle! I used to think his last name was pronounced as if it were French (Boo-shaycon), as in the Rococo painter. However you pronounce it, it adds up to a whole lot of fun. 🙂

Right now, I’m preparing for the conference–working on the launch for a robust and exciting new website–and working on the next two Miranda Corbie books. And gearing up for THE CURSE-MAKER launch! We just received the final cover yesterday, and it’s utterly fabulous–spooky, creepy, intriguing, mysterious, with evocative and subtle allusions to Roman culture. In other words: PERFECT!

In two weeks I’ll be participating in San Francisco’s LitCrawl, the culminating literary trek of Litquake. I’m in Phase Two with friends Michelle Gagnon, Simon Wood, Julianne Balmain and Seth Harwood. We’ll be reading in the Mission District police station in between lineups (no kidding!) so if you’re in the area, c’mon by! No need to get arrested first. 😉

At Bouchercon, I’ll be participating on two panels, and in the “black envelope” event on Thursday night (about which I’m sworn to silence, but can only say: don’t miss it!!)

My panels are fabulous, and I have the thrill and pleasure of participating with good friends and favorite writers:

Thursday at 4:30 PM: “Year of the Locusts: Books to Movies”. I’m moderating, and the panel features Ken Bruen, Val McDermid, Paul Levine and Derek Haas.

Friday at 3:00 PM: “No Minor Vices: SF Noir”. Peter Maravelis is moderating, with David Corbett, Lisa Lutz, Eddie Muller and Domenic Stansberry.

Is it any wonder I can’t wait? 🙂

Day passes are available for the conference. If you’re in San Francisco from October 14th-17th, drop in–you won’t be disappointed! Litquake one week, Bouchercon the next–San Francisco is Lit City in October!

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Springing Forward in the Fall

It’s funny how time works.

The whole relativity thing may be provable mathematically, but I’m more interested in the emotional effects of how time feels … you know, how it speeds up and slows down all at once, depending on what you’re doing–and sometimes who you’re doing it with.

The last couple of months have gone by quickly from the vantage point of today … I spent most of the summer writing the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS–tentative title is CITY OF SPIDERS–which will be out next year in the late summer or early fall. And while I was writing it–while I was following Miranda through some suspenseful and harrowing events–time was excruciatingly slow.

But not really.

Then came a week of copy editing for THE CURSE-MAKER, which is releasing February 1st, 2011. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the copy editing process, so it seemed much longer than a week. And while the non-writer part of my brain thinks February is a comfortable few months away (all those holidays, after all!), the writer part of my brain (which takes up more space) is about to panic. 😉

So time isn’t just relative between people … it’s relative within ourselves. But hey, this is Writing in the Dark, not metaphysics, so I’m gonna try not to think about it too hard.

What is coming up is Bouchercon, and this year I get to stay home. Yup, it’s coming to San Francisco, which means no jet lag for me, though I still won’t get to stay up as late as I’d like because I’ve got to get myself back home and don’t have the luxury of just rolling into a hotel room. This year will be special, as all parties in San Francisco are!

Before B’con is the big lollapalooza lit festival our City likes to throw: Litquake! This year I’m part of LitCrawl, which means I get to hang out with wonderful crime writing friends and read from CITY OF DRAGONS inside an old police station. This qualifies as a cool and wholly unexpected perq of being a writer.

We’re also in the midst of designing a bigger and better website, of which Writing in the Dark will be an integral part. It’s based on the stuff I like to do when I’m on the web–i.e. have fun–so it’s going to be more interactive and offer more historical extras to look at, listen to and watch. It also means I’m making it a resolution to update my blog more frequently, even if I have to act out the title!

So cool stuff is coming up. Seeing THE CURSE-MAKER in print will be a dream come true, as Arcturus and Co. move to Thomas Dunne/Minotaur. Lots of research went into this one (research spent in Bath, England). And this series is more light-hearted than Miranda, so it complements what will be coming out in CITY OF SPIDERS.

I’m working on the next books–and sketching out plans for a contemporary, stand-alone thriller. If I can squeeze in the time, I may write a short story or two. The experience of having “Children’s Day”–my CITY OF DRAGONS prequel–published in FIRST THRILLS this summer was one of the major thrills of my life.

I’ll be back soon, writing about noir or about adventures in research, and in the meantime, want to thank YOU for reading, and send thanks to all those readers who brought a blog award to Writing in the Dark. Thanks so much for your support!

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Rip van Who?

You know, I think Washington Irving was on to something about Rip Van Winkle.

Except in my version of the story, I fly to New York in April to attend my first Edgar Awards Banquet (it was amazing); catch a horrendous case of bronchitis on the flight home (or more likely on the way there, since I was seated in front of a poor, coughing teenager); am out of commission for a full two weeks; and then put my head down and …

WRITE. No sleeping, not for this Winkle.

As we speak, I’m nearing the conclusion of CITY OF SPIDERS–the sequel to CITY OF DRAGONS. I hoped to have it finish much earlier, but this has been an extremely challenging year in many ways, even for a double Gemini with Multi-Tasking as my middle name. Somewhere in June, I even celebrated a birthday … like van Winkle, I emerge from my blogless state older and a little confused.

From you, dear blog readers, I have been absent in the spring … but I hope you forgive me. 🙂 As soon as CITY OF SPIDERS is finished, my goal is to wax weekly at Writing in the Dark!

Now, today itself is of some note: FIRST THRILLS, the International Thriller Writers anthology featuring just a ton of wonderful authors, all of whom I’m honored to be published with–is released! My Miranda Corbie short story “Children’s Day” is included, and takes place nearly a year before CITY OF DRAGONS–the entire story is set during the World’s Fair on Treasure Island.

I was also very lucky to be interviewed by the San Francisco Examiner, and that article also came out today! So … between the solstice, the launch of FIRST THRILLS, and the Examiner, I decided to take a novel writing evening off. 😉

I’ll also be taking a weekend off to fly back to New York for Thrillerfest in just a couple of weeks! And soon … very soon, I hope … CITY OF SPIDERS will, at last, be finished.

THEN I sleep … and start writing again. 🙂

Thanks again for reading, and if you’re up New York way for Thrillerfest, I hope you stop by to say hello! 🙂

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Springing Forward

T.S. Eliot may have characterized April as the cruelest month, but personally, I think he just needed a vacation. Such a pessimist … without even the excuse of an IRS deadline. 😉

So … I can’t believe spring is already here … we were just in the throes of winter!

Last time I posted, I was on my way to Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime … which was a fabulous conference, as it always is, despite a nasty cold I developed a couple of days before the flight.

Speaking of flight, what a thrill it was to ride Angel’s Flight and eat at China Cafe (rumored to be Marlowe’s old hangout for chop suey) with friends and fabulous writers Keith Raffel and Bill Cameron. And to see Rebecca Cantrell and Rita Lakin win awards (for the Bruce Alexander and Lefty, respectively). And to participate on a Pulp Fiction panel with some great writers, among them Eric Beetner, author of ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD, who also very generously filmed a candid video interview with me for Spinetingler Magazine. Another video, this one filmed by JohnRay Gutierrez of Kepler’s in a film noir style, was also a ton of fun–you can check it out below.

While at LCC, I signed at the venerable Book Soup on the Sunset Strip, had a chance to at least say hi to a lot of friends like the delightful and talented writer Holly West, and all in all, it was the best time I’ve ever had with a cold. 🙂

Just a little later in March, I flew to Portland and the Public Library Association Conference. This was quite an event–I loved meeting librarians from all over the country, had a chance to chat with friend Wilda Williams from Library Journal, and generally enjoyed a fabulous time signing copies of CITY OF DRAGONS and giving them away. I only wish we hadn’t run out in such a short time!

Same evening I gave a reading and signing at Powell’s in Beaverton. If you haven’t been to a Powell’s, make it an ambition. These giant independent bookstores are monuments to literacy and the great reading public of Portland, and it was an honor to sign there.

Throughout my Portland adventure, I palled around with stellar author and friend Bill Cameron. Bill lives in Portland, and I’m eagerly awaiting his next book, DAY ONE, a hot and riveting thriller from a superb writer. Don’t miss it!

On April 1st, I experienced the rare pleasure of reading CITY OF DRAGONS in a Chinatown bar. It was part of Subterranean Noir, a Litquake/City Lights event in which the brilliant Edgar-winning author Domenic Stansberry and I had a chance to showcase our work in the basement of one of Chinatown’s most venerable “joints” … and luckily for us, hardboiled writer Mark Coggins (THE BIG WAKEUP), who is not only a great writer, but a great photographer, was on hand to shoot some film. You can read about it in Mark’s blog on The Huffington Post.

I’ll be heading back to the City of Angels in a couple of weeks for the LA Times Festival of the Book, where I’ll be signing with Mysterious Galaxy and The Mystery Bookstore. A few days later, it’s NYC and the Edgars, my first time attending the “Oscars” of the mystery-writing world.

But what I’ve really been doing–and will be doing for the next couple of months–is writing. I’m deep into the sequel of CITY OF DRAGONS–working title is CITY OF SPIDERS–and am racing toward my deadline and the finish line.

In other news, the audio version of CITY OF DRAGONS is now available, and I was thrilled and delighted to see the hardcover reach #2 on the IMBA Bestsellers list for February–and a heartfelt thank you to all the readers, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and friends and colleagues who made that happen! I was also privileged and honored by a recent review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Have a wonderful April–and thanks for reading!

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City of Dragons Tour – on the way to LCC!

So last we met, I was in San Diego. Now I’m about to leave for Los Angeles and Left Coast Crime.

What happened??

Well, I’ve discovered a new law of physics. Time bends when you’re on the road, true … but when you get home–and try to continue a book tour from your own sweet domicile–time really messes with your head. It’s also more tiring by far … because you’re having to juggle your “normal” life (in my case, a day job, taking care of springer spaniel Bertie, buying toothpaste, etc.) with your “writer” life (driving all over to events and signing your book).

In short, everything snuck up on me, and I still haven’t really caught up from the long distance part of the CITY OF DRAGONS march. But I did download some wonderful photos of the desert, and will post them soon … I promise. In the meantime, here’s a recap, from the middle of February to now:

Mysterious Galaxy is a wonderful store–known as the Cheers of the mystery world and for good reason! I had a blast hanging out with Patrick and Michael, and was sorry to leave … but can’t wait to return. They’re the best!!!

The next day (February 13th) we made a beautiful and really incredible drive across I-8, skimming along the US/Mexico border through California and southern Arizona. The geographic landscape was jaw-dropping. Craggy, desert mountains with piles of giant reddish boulders that looked like some gargantuan god piled them up to skim along a now-dead lake … I yelped when I saw my first saguaro cactus, multiple arms stretching toward the sun. Ocotillo too, looking like desert-dancing seaweed against the dry, vulnerable earth. I fell in love with the desert on this ride, and can’t wait to go back.

We stopped for lunch in Yuma, easily imagining either Glenn Ford or Russell Crowe alongside the still prominent train that runs right through the town … but the only thing criminal we found was the sinfully delicious Mexican food at Tacos Mi Rancho. Truly–the best, the very best, Mexican food I’ve had anywhere–including Texas. Yuma, I take off my hat to you!

A bit later, we stopped at Dateland, Arizona, which is a wonderful little oasis that serves fresh date milkshakes and sells all kinds of dates. A grove–with grapefruit trees in front–looms in the distance over the diner and gift shop. It’s one of those old-fashioned tourist places that are sadly disappearing, getting swallowed up in homogenized conglomerates disguising themselves as mom and pops (Starbucks, anybody?). We loved it! (and the milkshake was delicious).

We turned north on a state highway, and finally made it into Scottsdale as the sun was setting. A beautiful place, and the land is so … delicate. And beautiful. And gentle, too, at least in winter.

Next morning, we had a great breakfast at a place called Butterfields, and then to a signing and Valentine’s Day party at the Poisoned Pen! I am a big, big fan of Barbara and Rob, and it was an honor to be there … and an honor for CITY OF DRAGONS to make four of their “pick” lists, including the Hardboiled Club. I loved meeting everyone, and had a grand time, followed by dinner at a fabulous pizza place just down the street.

The next morning we were off again, this time along I-10 to LA. Not as dramatically beautiful, but lovely nevertheless, and a mid-day stop in the fascinating little waterhole known as Quartzite, Arizona, is worthy of its own post. We also rested for a bit at the I-10 equivalent of Dateland, called the Chiriaco Summit–which houses not only a vintage-style diner, shop and tiny post office, but a George Patton museum.

We finally made it to Culver City, our home away from home, and stayed in the Clark Gable suite at the Culver Hotel, which was a real treat. Gable must have helped sprinkle sleep dust, because we woke relatively refreshed, and ready for an equally long drive back to San Francisco up 101.

Since arriving home, I’ve been on the road around the Bay Area, doing upwards of two signings a week, plus signing stock at Barnes and Noble … and the tour isn’t over. Tomorrow I fly to Left Coast Crime … which is where I came in. 🙂

I’m wrestling a cold right now, but plan to prop myself up on tea, Vitamin C and adrenalin, at least long enough to have a great time on a panel tomorrow afternoon and at a reading/signing at Book Soup tomorrow evening.

Thanks for reading — and hope to see you somewhere along the journey! 🙂

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