Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Re-Visting a Classic

When was the last time you treated yourself to a read of “Murder on the Orient Express,” the Agatha Christie classic?

I know, I know . . . there are so many fabulous new books coming out all the time. Who has the luxury of diving into a book that’s nearly 80 years old?

Still, there is something about “Orient Express” that is so evocative of a different time and a different place and a different lifestyle, it’s worth the few night’s read. Just imagine . . .

It’s 1934 and there you are, plunked down smack dab in the middle of a mystery on the world’s most luxurious and storied train, the Orient Express. As you read, you find yourself headed to London along with the other first-class passengers, an assortment of interesting characters that includes a Russian Princess, a countess, a chauffeur, a governess, and oh yes . . . the brilliant and picky world-renown detective, Hercule Poirot.

A particularly unlikable passenger is murdered and this, of course, is not only shocking, but mystifying as well. You see, during the night of the murder, a snowstorm has stranded the train in the middle of nowhere. No one’s gotten on. And certainly, no one’s gotten off.

That means the murderer is still there among the 13 passengers.

What Christie does with this set-up is both legendary and brilliant and even if you know the ending (I’m pretty convinced everybody does since it’s so famous), reading your way there is such a treat!

Reading and enjoying classic like “Orient Express” is what propelled me to write the League of Literary Ladies mystery series and next Tuesday, June 4, the first one hits bookstore shelves. It’s called “Mayhem at the Orient Express” and I use the premise of a book discussion group reading Christie to set up a murder that’s awfully familiar:

A body in a restaurant called “The Orient Express.”

Thirteen suspects staying in an island B&B.

And a snowstorm that traps them all in place. No one can get on the island, and no one can get off. The murderer is among the guests, and now, the book discussion group comprised of four unlikely friends has to use Christie as inspiration to solve the murder.

“Mayhem” was a whole lot of fun to write. It gave me a chance to play with South Bass Island in Lake Erie as a setting, to explore the ins and outs of women’s friendships and, of course, it was the perfect excuse to re-read “Murder on the Orient Express.”

What could be better than that!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

For everyone in the US:

Happy Memorial Day! 

Thank you to everyone who has bravely served in the armed forces! We thank you for your service.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


These days, you'll hear a lot of authors talk about "velocity."  It has nothing to do with car racing (at least not most of the time) and everything to do with book sales.


The first week sales of a book are what propels it onto the New York Times list, and first week sales are all about velocity.  Publishers love it and readers notice when a book starts strong out of the gate (I think I'm mixing my racing metaphors here).

I'm mentioning velocity because as book buyers, it's something we all need to keep in mind.  Sure, an author appreciates every book sale he or she gets.  But big numbers in those first couple weeks . . . ah, big numbers are what it's all about.

In the name of shameless promotion, I'm also mentioning it because "Mayhem at the Orient Express" is due to arrive on bookstore shelves on June 4, a little less than two weeks from now.  If you're planning on buying a copy, oh how grateful I would be if you did it the first week the book is one sale! 

Velocity.  It's all about velocity. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding: the story behind the story

Hi all! Apologies for my AWOL status lately, but I've been burning it up trying to put the finishing touches on My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding. That's the book due out on July 1. In fact, you can find an excerpt here.

It's all about Lizzie the demon slayer and her attempts to fight off the Earl of Hell, while planning her wedding. The book is a lot of fun (the biker witches are crazier than ever). And it's been a really neat experience for me because I'm doing this book all on my own.

By that, I mean without an official publisher. My original publisher for the series went bankrupt (not because of me), so I can basically do what I want. What a dangerous thought...

It means that I don't simply turn in a manuscript, like I do with the Monster MASH series from St. Martin's Press. For the demon slayer series, I hire my own editor. A lot of times, with a publisher, I won't even see my cover until it is already finished. For My Big Fat Demon Slayer Wedding, I hired my own cover artist and had the great privilege of working with her directly. Janet is the original artist for the demon slayer series and she is flat out awesome.

Taking charge of the series myself means I can do as many demon slayer books as I want in the future (yay!). Of course, some things with the demon slayer series will change. This book won't get a pre-order button on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the like. Because, well, even though I'm the same person who has always been responsible for the content inside the books, I'm not an official publisher. The print copies may be harder to find. But, hey, it's a small price to pay in order to ride with the biker witches again.

I hope you enjoy this new book as much as I have. And stay tuned, because I'll be giving away some early copies when we get closer to that July 1 release date!


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bugs Bunny

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for animals. My downfall has always been letting strays into my house. Once they’re inside, I can’t bear forcing them out into the cold, cruel world. Over the years, this has been true with dogs… cats…and now bunnies! Two days ago, my son found a baby bunny who’d wandered too far from its nest on my front walk. He, of course, brought it inside!

BUT…this time I was smarter! My granddaughter, Kassidy (who happens to be the daughter of the son responsible for me acquiring the rabbit in the first place), is as big of sucker as I am, so I gave the rabbit to her. She cabbaged right on to it, named it Bugs Bunny, and he now resides in a little cardboard box out at their house.

At this point, I don’t know what the chances of Bugs surviving are. From what I’ve read on the Internet and heard from others…not so good. You’re not to handle them a lot, and with two younger brothers and two little cousins around, Bugs is getting a little too much loving at this point. However, he is drinking milk made for kittens from a syringe and has managed to survive the first 48 hours, so we’ll see how it goes.

Below is a picture of Kassidy and her two cousins feeding Bugs.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

And what mystery writer could possibly compete with Agatha Christie, la grande dame of the genre?

Naturally, Christie was my choice when I was writing “Mayhem at the Orient Express,” the first book in the League of Literary Ladies series. The women in my book (a court-ordered book discussion group) need a book to read, and they choose the Christie classic, “Murder on the Orient Express.”

So what could possibly go wrong?

I guess the first clue our heroines should have had was that there was a new Asian restaurant on South Bass Island where they live. You guessed it, it’s called the Orient Express. Best orange/peanut chicken in the world, and the owner, Peter Chan, was the nicest, most ordinary guy you could imagine.

At least that’s what the ladies think.

Until that day Bea Cartwright (protagonist and amateur sleuth) goes to pick up a take-away order of orange/peanut chicken and finds Peter arguing with a stranger.

And finds a note threatening Peter.

And finds Peter dead with a knife through his heart.

Suddenly, Christie isn’t the only one on the island with a mind on mystery! And now, the League of Literary Ladies has to investigate, using Christie’s detective, Hercule Poirot, for inspiration.

A house full of suspects, a murder mystery dinner party and a snow storm that has trapped a killer on the island, just like Christie’s killer was trapped on the Orient Express. The book will hit store shelves on June 4, a little less than a month from now. So come on, join the League or Literary Ladies as they use their little gray cells to uncover the secrets behind “Mayhem at the Orient Express.”