New York, New York!

It’s been an adventurous week!

No time to write about Vertigo, unfortunately–gotta save it for next time. I haven’t had much time to do anything but work on some deadlines for the website relaunch, which we wanted to have happen before Thrillerfest, but looks like will happen the week after. And speaking of Thrillerfest

New York awaits! The conference is always exciting, and it’s in the most exciting city on the planet, so … I’m gearing up. Meetings. Parties. Panels. Non-stop, “city that never sleeps” fun! I leave early Wednesday, and will probably not be back to my Writing in the Dark post until the following week, though I’m hoping to squeeze in a blog or a tweet or two.


What else? Well, we just got word that the Greek rights to NOX DORMIENDA have been sold, so Roman Noir will be available in Athens and all over the remarkably beautiful country of Hellas.

I’m a bit emotional over the fact that my first foreign rights sales have been Italy and Greece–the foundations of western civilization, the countries and cultures I’ve spent so much time in, physically and mentally. From my first D’Aulaire’s Greek Mythology (checked out of a Tallahassee, Florida library when I was in the second grade), to now seeing my first book published in modern Greek … it’s like an affirmation. Efcharisto!

Friday was photoshoot day … we need new head shots for CITY OF DRAGONS, so ventured to the sunny side of the Bay and Berkeley, over to Lisa Keating, photographer extraordinaire. Lisa makes you feel immediately comfortable, in a beautiful, airy, naturally lit studio, complete with a black lab named Happy, who makes you feel exactly that.

Despite a TV movie-like mishap–my dry cleaner didn’t give me my entire order, and so I arrived in Berkeley without a shirt and had to fight through horrendous 4th of July traffic to get back to San Francisco and then turned immediately around so I could make it back to Berkeley in time–the shoot was a dream, and makeup artist Tricia Turner and Lisa just the best people anyone–particuarly writers with nerves–could ever hope to work with!! I can’t wait for the photos … and yes, I wore one of my fedoras. 🙂

Today was Sunday Breakfast with Friends time, a wonderful opportunity to see pals and brilliant writers Laura Benedict (who lives in Illinois, so I never see her enough) and Sophie Littlefield (who lives in the Bay Area, but whom I still don’t see enough!) We had an old-fashioned breakfast at an old-fashioned restaurant and I only wish I could spend more Sundays doing this …

So, until next time, thanks for reading Writing in the Dark, thanks for checking out our new grog Criminal Minds, and I will do my best to convey some of the madness, fun, and exultation of Thrillerfest in New York!

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Sisterhood in the Blogosphere!


I was delighted and honored to get a Sisterhood Award nomination from PK the Bookeemonster and her wonderful, always insightful blog!

Herewith are my nominees (wonder women all), and the directions:

IF YOU ARE A NOMINEE, PLEASE GO AHEAD AND….
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

And the nominees are:

1. Laura Benedict’s Notes from the Handbasket (a fascinating blog, stunning writer, and dear friend)

2. Linda L. Richards (fellow Deco-loving pal from the NW, and a great writer and journalist)

3. Sophie Littlefield’s Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (good friend and debut novelist–watch for her terrific BAD DAY FOR SORRY, coming out in August)

4. Kaye Barley’s Meanderings and Musings (a graceful, lovely presence wherever she is, with a blog to match!)

5. BookBitch (one of the best thriller/mystery review sites around–thanks, Stacy!!)

6. Becky LeJeune’s No More Grumpy Bookseller (Becky is a fabulous reviewer and speed reader!)

7. Jungle Red Writers (amazing writers and amazing women all)

8. Working Stiffs (always fun and interesting, and a truly great community)

9. Poe’s Deadly Daughters (the name says it all!! another wonderful group of writers)

10. Sarah Weinman’s brilliant, must-read blog for all crime fiction news and observations, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.

Next post, a crazy little noir starring Ronald Reagan as a farm worker organizer, fighting corrupt monopolies in the burgeoning agro-business of 1942. Yeah, you heard me. It’s called JUKE GIRL, and features Ann Sheridan in the titular role.

BTW–March 26th is the anniversary of Raymond Chandler’s death. If you love crime fiction, remember the master with a nod of your fedora.

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The Meming of it All


I’m not sure that “meming” is a word — but it’s January, so new words are allowed. How else do little dictionaries grow?

This is the month of Noir City and post-holiday cookie sales … a month of anticipation, back-to-the-gym promises, of hope and resolve and potential. Of dark, rainy streets projected in glorious 35mm on the Castro Theater screen, of sunshine in San Francisco backyards, and a new inauguration for a New Deal and a New Day in Washington.

You can probably tell I like January.

This week, I’m meming … it’s a receding economy, and in the spirit of “make do and mend”, and “reduce, reuse, recycle”, later this week I’ll post a meme originally created on Facebook. Today, though, I’ve got a new one for which I was tagged by that talented dame of hardboiled fiction, Linda L. Richards.

You may possibly be wondering exactly what a “meme” is. In the context of Bloggerville, it’s one of those response-oriented lists that float from tagger to tagger, wherein you list five foods you won’t eat, seventeen most embarrassing moments, seven times you’ve broken the law or three impossible things before breakfast.

You know the kind of thing. Here’s a link to more specific definitions, but their real purpose is to save a busy blogging world a lot of time and let you discover trivia about other people.

So–drum roll, please … What book, movie and television show makes you cry the most?

(And keep in mind that I give good weep. From the “Old Yeller cry” (the horrible cry of loss) to “La Marseillaise cry” (the choked up cry of sentiment, in this case over the singing of the Marseillaise in Casablanca), I cry at, over and for a lot of things.)

Book: I might cry over my own if I get a particularly nasty review. I first read Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Return of the Native, and Jude the Obscure (all by Thomas Hardy) as a young woman (and re-read them subsequently), and I cried buckets. The sound of my tears used to wake my mother up in the middle of the night. They’re among the most powerful novels in English, and Jude the Obscure, hands-down, is the most gut-wrenchingly devasting book I’ve ever read. Only Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath comes close.

Two more get honorable mentions: Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle and Ayn Rand’s We, the Living. The latter was one of my favorite books, and I used to harbor dreams of making it into a movie (I’m far from being a political disciple of Rand’s, but she was one hell of a writer.)

A special section might be devoted to children’s literature: I cried over the Harry Potter saga as an adult, and as a kid used to wail over Charlotte’s Web.

Movie: The aforementioned Casablanca scene always makes me cry. But It’s A Wonderful Life makes me cry from the opening scene, just in anticipation (voiceovers of various cast members are praying for George Bailey). I avoid sad animal movies entirely. Crying is a catharsis, and if you’ve experienced the loss of a beloved pet, you realize crying doesn’t help. I don’t need an entertainment vehicle to remind me of it.

Television Shows: TV mostly makes me cry in horror–especially the “Queen for a Day” reality programming. Most television–which, when I was growing up, was all network–is presented in bite-size chunks, making it much more difficult to sustain the emotional connection necessary. So I don’t think I’ve cried at TV since the last, farewell episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And for some reason, probably related to why I’m a noir writer, Carol Burnett used to make me teary whenever she dragged out that damn old bucket to play the scrub-woman. I’m sure I would’ve cried at the last episode of MASH, too, but I was rehearsing for a play in college–and the little (#$^@ student director thought that directing meant being a dictator, and forced us to miss the episode. This in the days of no TiVO. I’m still holding a grudge.

Quid pro quo time: I’m tagging Laura Benedict, Jennie Bentley, Rebecca Cantrell, Bill Cameron, and Alex Sokoloff. And Linda, right back atcha. Memes away, guys! 🙂

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Left Coast Crime: Sunshine and Snowflurries


It’s hard to believe that this time last week was the final day for that most winsome and winning of conferences, Left Coast Crime. What a whirlwind!

Luckily, Writing in the Dark (this blog, doncha know) had special guest and fabulous historical noir writer, Becky Cantrell, to keep the fires burning. We could’ve used a hearth or two in Denver, where the snow flurries drifted and spun down the eerily quiet 16th Street pedestrian mall, settling into small snow drifts, as powdery as your grandmother’s compact.

I had a lot of fun at LCC, and over the next few days, I’m going to post some pictures to prove it. There were too many highlights to unwrap them all in one blog, even though I tried to hit a few high notes when I guested over at the ever cool Crime Always Pays blog of friend and top writer Declan Burke (also known as the Irish Elmore Leonard–his books are amazing!).

I met a lot of new friends, people I’d only met virtually … like Robert Gregory Browne, an amazing writer from the Killer Year class who is an utterly wonderful guy to hang around with. J.T. Ellison, another KY alum, whom I felt like I’d known forever. Jeri Westerson (the creator of Medieval Noir with her Crispin Guest series, coming this fall) and I met in the signing room and talked about hard-boiled history and teaming up for a panel.

I met the wonderful Jeanne Stein over dinner, Margie Lawson, the amazing editor and writing coach. The delightful Toni McGee Causey. Tireless volunteer and the Birdwatcher’s Mystery Series creator Christine Goff. And the list goes on, because the writing community really is a special one, filled with generous, fascinating and talented people, and even though I tried, I didn’t get to share a drink with them all.

I hung around with panel mates and author friends from Northern California, like Cornelia Read (don’t miss out on Crazy School!). I got to see out of state friends like Lost Dog author, Rocky nominee and KY member Bill Cameron (he who christened The Big Noo The Big Noo) … Laura Benedict, the author of the fantastic Isabella Moon, and ITW Debut Program leader CJ Lyons, who launched her first novel Lifelines at LCC, a gripping medical thriller that is just one hell of a good book.

In other words, I was surrounded by amazing talent. And friends. And wonderful, wonderful readers, librarians, booksellers, publishers. In short, it was nirvana. In short, a hell of a conference.

Sunshine in the day; snow flurries at night; and a whirlwind of excitement, conversation, clinking glasses, scintillating panels, costume contests, and nonstop, crazy fun. Left Coast Crime. I can’t wait til I can do it all over again in 2009 (albeit with no snow flurries).

Next up: more photos from LCC and news about a newly discovered Noel Coward play and Czar of Noir Eddie Muller! And hey–if you were there, or have ever been to a conference or ever thought about going to a conference–leave a comment! 🙂

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