Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Can Danny Boyle Find The Famous Author?

My new hero is Danny Boyle, the newest member of Sea Haven, New Jersey's police department. Danny is the narrator of the John Ceepak mystery series, authored by Chris Grabenstein, and my man Danny has managed to stay alive through several publishing potholes. His newest adventure, ROLLING THUNDER, is set for publication this May by Pegasus, John and Danny's third publishing company.

People like Danny. And people might like me, too, if The Famous Author -- that fat lazy drunken bum -- would ever get back to the typewriter and finish my latest adventure. Where the hell is he? One little pothole and the guy runs out on me, leaves for Rome, then Mexico. Last word I got, he was back in Puerto Vallarta drinking bottles and bottles of Patron.

I've asked Danny and Ceepak to help me find him. Danny says they're a little busy finishing up this ROLLING THUNDER adventure, but after that, he might take a trip to Mexico and run TFA down for me. Go get'm, Danny. And when you find him, book'm, Dano.

Here's a blurb on ROLLING THUNDER. You can order it now online or at your favorite bookstore. And learn about Danny's other adventures at Chris Grabenstein's website.

"Full of unpredictable twists and turns. There's plenty of fizz in the chemistry between the two protagonists to keep the novel and the reader spinning."—Boston Globe

There’s more fireworks down the Jersey shore in Chris Grabenstein’s sixth fast-paced John Ceepak mystery Rolling Thunder. A prominent citizen suffers a heart attack on opening day of a brand new boardwalk roller coaster in the seedy seaside resort town Sea Haven, New Jersey. Initially ruled a tragic accident, it isn’t long before there are suspicious hints of foul play—especially after another dead body is discovered: a stunning young beach beauty.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Joe Pike Fans, Mark Your Calendars (and Arms)

As all of us Robert Crais fans know well by now, Elvis Cole and Joe Pike have a new adventure, THE FIRST RULE, coming January 12 (March 18 in the U.K.). RC and his publicity machine are already offering us two excerpts from what promises to be a great thriller.

Here's the first, and here's the second of these two teasers.

But my favorite bit of PR is this: RC promises to give "everyone who makes it to one of his signings the chance to try on Joe's arrows for size. We've made Pike's signature body art into temporary tattoos that anyone can wear. There's already huge buzz from the select few who've gotten a sneak preview - everyone loves them!"

Click here for the latest tour info and tat give-away locations.

Wow! Joe's red arrows on my very own arms. I'm there, RC! See you at The Mysterious Bookshop in New York, where a spokesman tells us there are still a few copies available of a special, limited, first edition of THE FIRST RULE for collectors. This beautiful edition has marbled boards, a leather spine, and will be autographed by The Man himself, Robert Crais. Click here for more details.

Wanna get me something for Christmas? Do I need arrows?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Good, Funny Mystery for Christmas

We went hunting for The Famous Author last weekend in Plainfield, an author signing event at the library. No luck locating TFA, but we did run into one of our favorite New Jersey characters, Cassie O'Malley, a tabloid journalist who solves New Jersey murders with flair and humor. Cassie has a new Christmas mystery, IT'S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE MURDER, just out from Gale/Five Star. Ask your library to order a copy for you, or pick it up here with the other Cassie O'Malley tales.

Cassie and her author Jeff Markowitz got a solid review from Kirkus, who isn't always nice: "Nothing concentrates the mind of a reporter with a severe case of writer's block like an opportune murder or two. Cassie O'Malley's job with a New Jersey tabloid may be on its last legs. Her new boss, impatient with the non-producing Cassie, sends her to cover the Christmas shopping rush at the mall.

"Bored, Cassie spends most of her time in the food court watching children visit Santa Claus until loan shark Big Mack is found dead in the men's room. His vengeful son Little Mack doesn't take kindly to security guard Oliver Berryhill's claim that he knifed him in a fight over stolen jewelry. Nor does Detective Eddie "Eggs" Bebedict, with whom Cassie has quickly clicked. Even though his boss has closed the case, Eggs suspects that the absence of fingerprints on the knife proves that Oliver's lying.

"The list of possible killers includes Cassie's former boss, who was deep in debt to Big Mack. Oliver's covering up thefts at the mall. Even Santa has secrets. Though it's bad for business, a second body, identified as that of a pawnbroker, provides the clue that points Cassie and Eggs toward a killer. On the evidence here, Markowitz's humorous murder series (A Minor Case of Murder, 2006, etc.) isn't exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but you'll meet a number of amusing characters en route to the surprise ending."

Cassie told us this guy Eggs Bebedict may stick around awhile.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Please Come Home, TFA - At Least Send Cash

It's been two months since I've seen The Famous Author. I can't even remember what the fight was about. He just took off and left me, left the story we were working on.

Actually, it wouldn't be so bad -- the man is a blabbermouth coffee addict -- except nobody's paid the bills, and the gas man just turned off the heat. Tomorrow, it's the electricity and the water.

I could die here, alone in the dark, unless somebody finds him, sends him home. He's supposed to be in Plainfield tomorrow at the public library, 800 Park Avenue, signing books (from 1 to 3 pm) with more than thirty other New Jersey authors. If you see him, please tell him to at least pay his bills.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Redhead of the Week Overcomes Tragedy

Allison Moorer is a Grammy and Academy Award nominated American alternative country singer. She signed to MCA Nashville in 1998, and made her debut on the U.S. Billboard country charts with the release of her debut single "A Soft Place To Fall", which reached #73 on the charts. Since the release of her debut album Alabama Song, she released seven albums and eleven singles, five of which reached positions on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

Allison was raised in Frankville, Alabama, just north of Mobile. Raised on George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Emmylou Harris, she sang harmonies as a toddler, eventually thinking she'd make a career of it. Following the murder-suicide of her parents in 1986, she moved into her aunt and uncle's home.

Not long afterwards, Lynne moved to Nashville for a career in music, and after her high school graduation, Moorer followed. She sang harmonies with Lynne for a while but returned to Alabama to earn a degree in public relations. She skipped the graduation ceremony to move back to Nashville. There, she met Doyle "Butch" Primm, an Oklahoma-reared musician who soon became her husband and frequent songwriting partner. In June 1996, she took part in a series of tributes to her songwriter friend, the late Walter Hyatt, singing his "Tell Me Baby" at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Nashville agent Bobby Cudd was sufficiently impressed to hook her up with producer Tony Brown. After a few meetings, Brown asked her to cut some demos, from which two tracks -- "Pardon Me" and "Call My Name" -- ended up on her first MCA album, Alabama Song.

Her song "A Soft Place to Fall" was tapped for The Horse Whisperer in 1998, and she also appeared in the movie. Because the ballad earned her an Academy Award nomination, she performed it on the 1999 Oscars ceremony. However, none of her singles from Alabama Song or its follow-up The Hardest Part caught on at radio, though both projects were highly praised by critics.

In 2005, Moorer divorced Primm and married Steve Earle, after serving as his opening act on a European tour. Earle produced her 2006 album, Getting Somewhere. Moorer wrote all the songs, with the exception of one co-written with Earle. The couple live in New York City. She and Earle were nominated for a Grammy award in the category Best Country Collaboration with Vocals, for the song "Days Aren't Long Enough" from Earle's "Washington Square Serenade."

Thanks to Wikipedia

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mystery Writers of America Vs. Harlequin

Mystery Writers of America is threatening to remove Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, decline future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin, and to declare books published by Harlequin ineligible for the Edgar Awards.

MWA members received this email last night:

"Recently, Harlequin Enterprises launched two new business ventures aimed at aspiring writers, the Harlequin Horizons self-publishing program and the eHarlequin Manuscript Critique service (aka "Learn to Write"), both of which are widely promoted on its website and embedded in the manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints.

"Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is deeply concerned about the troubling conflict-of-interest issues created by these ventures, particularly the potentially misleading way they are marketed to aspiring writers on the Harlequin website.

"It is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service" in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to "Harlequin Horizons," its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements.

"That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List.

"On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service," notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched "Harlequin Horizons," a self-publishing program.

"MWA's November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.

"We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures.

This e-bulletin was prepared on behalf of MWA's National Board of Directors."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Will TFA Really Reappear?

Tonight at 6:30 PM, The Famous Author is scheduled to end his long seclusion. Lost somewhere in the Chianti wine district of Italy, TFA sent word yesterday that he will in fact show up for the Sisters In Crime, Tri-State Chapter panel discussion on short stories. He says he's looking forward to it.

If you're a SIC member, go see for yourself tonight at the NY Public Library, Muhlenberg Branch, 209 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10012.

Ask TFA for a glass of Tuscan red.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Where Am I?

As a fictional character, it's hard to travel without the writer taking you, of course, but the other day, The Famous Author got carried away himself and decided to kidnap me to Europe. More specifically, Florence (Firenze) and Venice (Venezia) with Financial Guru Corkface. Some financial crisis thing, which frankly, I'm sick of talking about. Corkface has been hot on the Big Capitalist Circuit since he accurately predicted the collapse of mortgage-backed securities. I say, who cares? I don't have any money and couldn't spend it if I had it.

Anyway, where the heck am I? Florence or Venice? I snapped this shot out of TFA's zippered computer case.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


After a week-long disappearance, The Famous Author showed up this morning to whisk me away. He says we're off to Italy and the Second Annual World Emergency Financial Conference with Corkface. I'll try to provide updates, maybe get a few hot tips.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Make Your Pet Famous (Sort of)

John Ceepak is the star of Chris Grabenstein's Jersey Shore mystery series, and though we don't see eye to eye on a number of social issues (I'm a cad, he's not), me and The Still Missing Famous Author are big fans of John, Chris, and the series. So when we got this email from Chris today, we thought we'd pass his contest on to everybody. Help save animals! Play name that pet...

"Want to see your cat or dog's name immortalized in the next John Ceepak mystery and support Animal Rescue, too? Now through November 20th, for $10 per chance, you have a shot at naming the cat and dog in ROLLING THUNDER by contributing to The Artemis Project, a non-profit animal welfare group in New York City. Buy as many chances as you want—the more times your favorite name is in the pet food bowl, the better you chance of being selected.

"To enter, just click on this link.

"Fill in the amount you want to donate ($10 per virtual raffle ticket), select the appropriate buttons, and down in the box that says DEDICATION or GIFT write in the following:

CONTEST: (PETNAME)—CAT (or DOG) Or send the pet's name and species along with a check payable to:

The Artemis Project
318 West 77th Street #1B
New York, NY 10024

Two lucky winners will be chosen right before Thanksgiving—on Friday November 20th. The winners will also receive an autographed first edition of ROLLING THUNDER when it is published in May 2010."

When I find TFA's checkbook, I'm sending in a ticket for his lab Murphy. Maybe buy a new car, too.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Famous Author Missing

OK, I can't hide the facts anymore. I'm tired of covering for him. Plus, if he doesn't show up pretty soon and finish our fourth adventure, my life could be in danger. Let's face it, as a fictional character, I'm pretty much at the man's mercy.

Where the heck is TFA?

He was last seen Friday. Our favorite scribe was in his chair playing Mafia Wars, this stupid internet game where you collect weapons, armor, vehicles, and gangster pals, then battle other crews and commit serious crimes for cash and loot. Yeah, I know, it sounds like fun -- kind of a seriously illegal game of violent Monopoly -- but it's a game, for crying out loud, and I need TFA back at work.

That was five days ago. When I complained back then, he took his computer, climbed in the car and drove off. Only one sighting since: This photo was allegedly taken at a Mexican bar and grill in Elizabeth, New Jersey. I'm thinking the palm trees and blooming hibiscus rule New Jersey out. Could be a head-fake. Knowing TFA's drinking habits, however, he's probably still wearing the sombrero.

Please tell him to come home and get back to work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Redhead of the Week Makes Me Laugh

In her new book, comedian Kathy Griffin is said to reveal "intimate details" about growing up with a dysfunctional family in suburban Illinois, bombing as a young comedian in L.A., plastic surgery disasters, and even her much publicized divorce. It's not a mystery, really -- maybe a crime drama -- but we thought her marketing approach was interesting enough to pass on.

Look what we found on Kathy's website.

"Sign the Oprah Petition! We absolutely must get Kathy's book on Oprah's book club. Let Oprah hear all of you fans out there! Sign the petition now."

The feature story on her site has a link where you can sign her petition. Good luck with that one, Kathy.

We also found this on her website:

Can you believe it? Bravo will be airing Kathy's 7th stand-up special in what now has become a tradition. Her latest special, currently titled Balls of Steel (although last minute name changes have happened before so stay tuned) was recently taped in San Diego during two sold out shows.

As to what you can expect from Kathy's latest, she says "There will be a lot of foul language and sniping, a lot of opinions...a little fact, but I don’t really get bogged down by facts.". Look for the special on November 3rd.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Redhead of the Week Ran from Fame

Born in Torquay, England, model Lily Cole began her modelling career when she was fourteen. She was walking through the streets of Soho after a hamburger with friends when scout-turned-actor Benjamin Hart approached her about modelling. Cole ran away, but later changed her mind and was signed on with Storm Models, the mother agency of models such as Kate Moss.

Cole's big break came in 2003 when she caught photographer Steven Meisel's eye. It was on that photoshoot, her first 'only girl' story for Italian Vogue, that Cole was catapulted into the spotlight as one of the leading new faces of the year. Since then, Cole has worked with many other prominent photographers, including Craig McDean, Nick Knight, Juergen Teller, Arthur Elgort, and Irving Penn.

Cole is featured in top fashion magazines such as Vogue (American, Italian, British, Japanese and Korean), Citizen K, and V. She has also appeared on the cover of Numéro and three for British Vogue. In November 2004, the British Fashion Awards named her 'Model of the Year'. Additionally, Cole has appeared in advertising campaigns for designers such as Chanel, Christian Lacroix, Hermès, Longchamp, Cacharel, Topshop, and Anna Sui Cosmetics, as well as being the face for Moschino's perfume 'I Love Love.'

She is a common sight on the catwalks of the international runway circuit and has walked many top shows—Chanel, DKNY, Jean Paul Gaultier, Versace, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Louis Vuitton, to name a few.

Thanks to Wikipedia and Ann O Dyne, AKA Marshall-Stacks

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Robert Crais Talks About Joe Pike

As you people know by now, my boss The Famous Author is a big fan of Robert Crais. He's read all the books. He met RC on a mystery convention panel. He stole a story RC told him privately and ran it all over the internet for two years! TFA has no shame.

So the other day TFA opened his email and there was word from RC about a new essay he wrote. Called The Man Behind the Sunglasses, the essay is all about Joe Pike. If you're a fan, too, you'll love RC's take on Elvis Cole's tough-guy sidekick.

A shorter version will appear in THE LINEUP, a collection of essays edited by Otto Penzler to be published by Little, Brown next year, but you guys are getting it here first because -- well, TFA stole it and is putting it up here. Or at least the start. TFA wants you to visit RC's official website to actually read the whole thing.

The Man Behind the Sunglasses
by Robert Crais

The sunglasses, twenty-four/seven. The eerie silence. The red arrows driving him forward.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Joe Pike.

Tens of thousands of women (and more than a few men) would happily take him.

I don’t need to be a mind reader to know this. Like Elvis Cole, Joe had always gotten a lot of mail, but a tsunami of email flooded my website when The Watchman was published. They wrote, “I love Joe Pike,” but not in a way suggesting they were simply fond of him or maybe kinda crushing on him. Both then and now, the women who write to Joe are feral.

They say, “I WANT Joe Pike.”

Which means, because it’s oh so easy to infer their dripping fangs and pheromone fog even through the filter of internet fan mail, “I’d suck the marrow from his bones.”

I first saw Joe Pike at the Florida Drive-In Theater in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Would have been one of those triple bills Southern drive-ins are famous for. I would have been a kid, snuck across the marshy fields to slip between rows of sleeping cars, the cars wired to speaker trees like tethered cattle. The darkness was my friend, masking my entrance to that wonderful old theater.

I remembered him years later when I created the characters and story that would become The Monkey's Raincoat. Gun fighter eyes in a face burned dark by the sun; his eyes as cold as an empty heart. Humorless lips. Your worst nightmare if he paints you with his rattlesnake gaze.

To read the rest of RC's essay on his character Joe Pike, click here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Redhead of the Week Likes Props

Playing nightly at The Luxor in Las Vegas, Scott "Carrot Top" Thompson has made a seven-figure success out of his red hair, but if you check out his official website, Scott thinks he's a pop culture icon because his humor -- specifically, his clever use of props -- is right up there with Jonathan Winters and Steve Martin.

Whatever, dude. You're my redhead of the week.

We did find another view, which begins, "Prop comedy king Scott “Carrot Top” Thompson is not really known as the funniest comedian by today’s standards."

Read more from David Matz of The Northern Star the all student-produced, independent media at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Aerial Attack Almost Gets Me!

I had real close call yesterday. In fact, I'm still so shaky, I'm not sure I can remember all the details. What I do remember -- I was almost eaten alive!

The Famous Author left me alone on a South Carolina beach yesterday. No biggie. The sun was warm, the water refreshing, and down the beach I saw a pretty redhead to keep my mind occupied. Maybe too much. All of a sudden, something grabbed me by the shoulders and lifted me into the air.

When I got over my shock, I realized I was in the grasp of a giant bird! Luckily, TFA heard my screams and managed to scare the creature by flapping his arms and reminding the bird that it was supposed to be eating fish.

Later, we looked in a book and found pictures. It was an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), sometimes known as the sea hawk, a fish-eating bird of prey. It's a biggie, too, averaging 24 inches in length with a six-foot wingspan. Brown on the upperparts, predominantly greyish on the head and underparts, with a black eye patch and wings.

The Osprey is the only raptor whose outer toe is reversible, allowing it to grasp me with two toes in front and two behind. With a diet of 99% fish, I don't know what he thought he was catching -- a rodent, rabbit, amphibian, or a another bird.

Thank goodness for TFA. Whew!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mystery Writer as Hero

Tonight, The Famous Author and I will be watching the new season opener of CASTLE. Why? Because the protagonist and star of the show is a ... Mystery Writer! The show, which premiered as a mid-season replacement series on ABC last March, features famous mystery novelist Richard Castle who is bored with his own success. When he learns a copycat killer has started staging murder scenes from in his novels, Castle meets NYPD Detective Kate Beckett.

Though they fight a lot, a touch of romance evolves as Castle helps her find the killer.

According to Mystery Book News, the season opener tonight (ABC at 10 PM (ET/PT) is called "Deep in Death". Castle wrestles with his relationship with Beckett, and while struggling to finish his soon-to-be-published bestseller, Heat Wave, the mysterious murder of a man found dead, tangled in the limbs of a tree, brings the two back together.

Michael Connelly works on the show created by Steven Cannell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Who is This Man and Why is He Smiling?

Meet Dan Brown, whose new novel, THE LOST SYMBOL, drops today with a print run of five million copies. Wow. No surprise, of course, as his previous novel, THE DA VINCI CODE, is the bestselling hardcover adult novel of all time. 81 million copies in print.

THE LOST SYMBOL will once again feature protagonist Robert Langdon. Brown’s longtime editor, Jason Kaufman, Vice President and Executive Editor at Doubleday said, "Nothing ever is as it first appears in a Dan Brown novel. This book’s narrative takes place in a twelve-hour period, and from the first page, Dan’s readers will feel the thrill of discovery as they follow Robert Langdon through a masterful and unexpected new landscape. THE LOST SYMBOL is full of surprises."

Dan Brown’s popularity continues to grow. The film of The Da Vinci Code was a #1 box office smash when it was released by Columbia Pictures in May 2006 with Ron Howard directing and Tom Hanks starring as Robert Langdon. Box office receipts were $758 million. The same team will release Angels and Demons theatrically worldwide on May 15, 2009.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Meet Four NJ Mystery Authors Saturday

The Famous Author and I are headed Saturday for New Jersey's number one mystery bookstore -- Moonstone Mystery Books & Twice Told Tales -- where Marilyn and Lisa are hosting "an afternoon of mystery and mayhem." Besides TFA, authors with NJ-based characters Chris Grabenstein, Jeff Cohen, and Ken Isaacson will be there.

Doing what, exactly, ladies?

"This is a group of genuinely nice, talented and funny guys who will kibitz with each other as they share experiences in the mystery writing genre, chat with the audience and sign copies of their books. They all live in the NJ and NYC-area, and readers will recognize numerous locales and landmarks in their novels."

Light refreshments will be served. For more information about the event or to reserve books for signing, contact the store at: (908) 788-9094 or email these nice ladies.


Moonstone Mystery Books/Twice Told Tales
12-14 Bloomfield Ave., Flemington NJ 08822

Monday, September 7, 2009

Redhead of the Week an Inspiration

On Terri Blackstock's website, our fifty-two-year-old Redhead of the Week calls herself a Christian fiction writer, but her bestseller status needs no qualification. Blackstock’s books have sold six million copies worldwide, and often debut at number one on the Christian fiction best-seller lists. Last year's TRUE LIGHT popped number one and we hear her new one -- INTERVENTION -- will do the same on September 22. Pre-sale numbers look awesome.

In 1994, Blackstock wrote for HarperCollins, Harlequin and Silhouette, but she says a spiritual awakening drew her into the Christian market. Her most recent books are the four in her popular Restoration Series, which includes Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light.

Here's a blurb on the new one: Barbara Covington has one more chance to save her daughter from a devastating addiction, by staging an intervention. But when eighteen-year-old Emily disappears on the way to drug treatment—and her interventionist is found dead at the airport—Barbara enters her darkest nightmare of all.

“Veteran Christian suspense author Blackstock seamlessly interweaves family drama with riveting crime stories. She is clearly one of the best in this genre …” Library Journal

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Backyard Wildlife

Local birders say there are at least three nesting pair of Great Blue Heron in The Famous Author's neighborhood, and the New Jersey Shore shelters thousands of these giant, magnificent birds. So I wasn't surprised this morning when TFA dropped me and our novel in progress to stare at this GBH fishing on his property.

What was surprising, this time TFA finally got the shot. See, he's been trying for years, but these big birds really hate humans and are very sensitive to movement and sound. Usually, TFA just opens the door onto the back porch and -- pow! GBH is on the wing. Some are over four-feet tall, with wing-spans of six, six and a half feet. It's like Batman taking off.

This morning, though, TFA got lucky. The screen door was stuck open, and he slipped onto the porch without making a sound. The results you see here. TFA tried sneaking down the porch stairs for a closer shot, but as you can maybe tell by this photo (GBH's black eye mixes with the fence, but ...) big bird has already spotted him.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a great website on birds. Here's what it says about GBH: "The largest and most widespread heron in North America, the Great Blue Heron can be found along the ocean shore or the edge of a small inland pond. An all white form is found from southern Florida into the Caribbean, and used to be considered a separate species, the "Great White Heron."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Mystery Solved Here

So after the stock market closed Thursday, our favorite treasure hunters -- Odyssey Marine Exploration, Inc. (OMEX) -- reported the company completed initial survey work in the search area code named "Symphony".

The press release sounded quite mysterious: "The work was conducted under a government permit in an exclusive claim area and in conjunction with a project partner. Results of the survey are being analyzed and compiled into a report which will be provided to the government before the next phase of work is commenced. Preliminary review of the data suggests that four shipwrecks have been located ... but at this point, none of the sites have been conclusively identified."

"This new search area has long been considered a target-rich environment for valuable shipwrecks and we're thrilled to have the opportunity to work here in cooperation with the government," said Greg Stemm, Odyssey CEO. "Research suggests that at least two shipwrecks in the 'Symphony' area are commercial vessels with significant cargoes of gold coins."

More mystery from the press release: "The expedition was conducted by the Odyssey search team on a chartered vessel. To protect the security of the search area, specific location details are not being released at this time."

Well, your intrepid treasure stock reporter has the answer. Earlier this month, OMEX reported another operating loss (they have to find treasure regularly if they want to survive. Operating costs on one big ship run close to $100,000 a month), and at the end of the earnings release, they commented on all their projects. Read this paragraph from that August 7 release:

"North Carolina Project -- Shipwreck exploration firm Intersal, Inc. has received a renewal of its exploration permit from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources for a site off the coast of North Carolina and additional surrounding areas, some of which correlate with Odyssey's "Firefly" shipwreck project. Odyssey has an agreement with Intersal, Inc. to pursue operations under this permit and to share in substantial research and data acquired by Intersal over the years relating to the target shipwreck and the work completed to date in the permit area.

"The area covered by this permit and arrest is located near Odyssey's current "Firefly" project, which was acquired by Odyssey from BDJ Discovery Group in 2007 and includes one arrested site that has already produced a small number of gold and silver artifacts. The Intersal site and permit area may also be related to the high-value, Colonial-era merchant vessel believed to be located in the area. The agreements with BDJ and Intersal are similar but separate and the areas do not overlap. Plans are being developed to resume work in this area before the end of August 2009."

Sounds like a match to me. Government. Partner. Merchant ship. August timing.

The Symphony project -- 78% of the gross income goes to Odyssey -- looks like the unnamed part of Firefly, don't you think?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Want to Be a Mystery Writer?

We don't know about you, but this mystery fan subscribes to Mystery Book News which this morning published a list of new hardcover mysteries scheduled for September publication. Wow. More than seventy-five new hardcover mysteries competing for readers attention.

Authors with mysteries this month include Susan Wittig Albert, Tasha Alexander, David Armstrong, Suzanne Arruda, M. C. Beaton, James R. Benn, William Bernhardt, Michael Bowen, Gyles Brandreth, Dan Brown, Chelsea Cain, Ann Cleeves, Margaret Coel, and Susan Rogers Cooper.

Okay, and that list was just A thru C of authors with returning characters. Authors with mysteries introducing new series characters this month include Richard Castle, Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood, Alex Dryden, David Ellis, Charlotte Hinger, Tracy Kiely, Charles Kipps,, Vincent McCaffrey, Sheldon Russell, Annelise Ryan, Clea Simon, Jeffrey Stephen, and Charles Todd.

Then you have authors with stand-alone mysteries this month: Nevada Barr, Lisa Black, R. J. Ellory, Peter Gadol, M. E. Harrigan, Karin Hofland, Joseph Kanon, Michael Lister, Bill Loehfelm, Ronald Damien Malfi, Lou Manfredo, Pamela Oldfield, Richard North Patterson, Ralph Peters, Stephen Jay Schwartz, Rebecca Stott, Lisa Tucker, Norb Vonnegut.

For more information on any of these new books, visit the New Mysteries website.

Mystery Book News offers great websites and is a great source of daily news. We suggest you subscribe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Redhead of the Week is Hot, Hot, Hot

Firestar (Angelica "Angel" Jones) is a fictional mutant superhero in the Marvel Comics universe. She can generate and manipulate microwave radiation, creating intense heat and flames. She can also fly. In the comics, Firestar has been a member of the Hellions, the New Warriors, and the Avengers. In the cartoon from which she originated, she was a member of the X-Men and, later, of the Spider-Friends.

Firestar was originally created for the animated series Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. The creators had originally wanted to use the Human Torch, but the rights to the character were tied up.

Firestar occasionally appears to have a playful flirtation and sometimes dates Iceman. At times she dates Peter Parker (Spider-Man) as well, resulting in a relaxed love triangle of sorts (though Iceman states that, despite his feelings for Firestar, "fire and ice don't really mix." The animated series and the one-shot Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends comic book are not considered part of standard Marvel Universe continuity.

The Firestar four issue mini-series shows her development from a shy, insecure girl afraid of her developing powers to a confident young woman. Angelica Jones, a lonely girl raised by her single father Bartholomew and paternal grandmother, discovered that she possessed mutant powers.

Firestar was later to become one of the few surviving original Hellions, after most members were murdered by Trevor Fitzroy.

Firestar's primary artist, George Pérez, was one of the most popular and influential artist of superhero comic books in the 80s. He primarily illustrates superhero comics, mainly published by DC Comics and Marvel Comics, and is known for his clean, dynamic, and ornate style.

Thanks to Wikipedia

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grifters, Grafters, and Me

"We are pleased to confirm the program assignment below for Bouchercon 2009...Let us know if you have any questions or concerns, or if for any reason you are unable to accept this assignment.
Thanks! -- The Program Committee"

True, they want me for a panel called "THE STING GOES ON, Grifters, grafters, and scams in today’s crime fiction," but we are thrilled to be part of The Show, the world's biggest and best convention for crime fiction fans. The Famous Author will be on the panel with me, of course, as will John Billheimer (Moderator), Michael Bowen, Sean Doolittle, and Richard Thompson.

TFA is also volunteering at the registration desk Thursday and Friday afternoons. While he's working, I'll be in the bar. See you in Indianapolis October 15, 16, 17 and 18.

If you haven't registered yet, get busy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Secret Password: Get it Here

OK, Sherlock Holmes fans. You have to try this new promotional website. Fill in the five boxes with the password, IRENE, and you will hear and see Warner Bros. fun video for a new Holmes movie set to open Christmas Day.

If you're a Holmes fan, you know IRENE is for Irene Adler, the woman who once tricked Sherlock into revealing the location of a valuable letter, thus impressing the famous detective to no end. Watson once wondered if Sherlock wasn't secretly in love with her.

In the new movie SHERLOCK HOLMES, directed by Guy Ritchie, Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law portray Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous characters. According to the Hollywood wags, Holmes will show us martial art skills as deadly as his legendary deductions.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong, and Kelly Reilly co-star.

Thanks to Mystery Book News for the heads up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Redhead of the Week Returns

Our favorite fictional redhead, that Texas tornado Tammy Jo Trask, returns September 1 in a new adventure, BARELY BEWITCHED. We thought we'd give you the heads up early by naming Tammy Jo our Redhead of the Week.

In this latest adventure, Tammy Jo’s magic attracts the attention of a wand-wielding wizard and a warlock. When the trouble leads to a toxic spill of pixie dust, Duvall, Texas comes unglued, and the doors between the human and faery worlds open. Tammy probably ought to follow the rules…

Tammy Jo's creator is Kimberly Frost. Kim's website offers some nice reviews:

“If Janet Evanovich wrote fantasy, this would be the result!”
Recommended Read, Murder By the Book

“The new Southern Witch Series will keep you laughing long into the night! Kimberly Frost’s WOULD-BE WITCH is the first in the Southern Witch series and is laugh-out-loud fun. Tammy Jo is a hoot as she stumbles through her attempts at making magic and dealing with the men in her life. Zach is a stereotypical good ol’ boy, and Bryn Lyons is powerfully sexy! Ms. Frost is an author to watch for in the future.” FreshFiction.com

About three years ago, Tammy Jo's boss, Kimberly Frost, endured verbal assaults on her writing craft from none other than The Famous Author. Ha! TFA still struggles in the minor leagues, unable to hit a curve ball, and Kim is turning heads in the majors. Maybe TFA ought to read that little book again, too. The one he gave Kim...The Elements of Style, I think he called it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Two-Year Anniversary

Hey, I must have been at the beach and missed it, but my two-year anniversary went by unnoticed last month. I've been blogging since July, 2007. Wow. Who would have guessed? Feels like two centuries.

Here's the way we started back in those naive days. Who knew?

Lucky me, I talked The Famous Author into giving me my own blog yesterday. I told him it would help promote his novel, that Oprah's producers are always scanning these things for new show ideas and books. The guy is such a dope. Or desperate, I'm not sure which.

Anyway, who cares? I'm more alive here than I could be in any book, and maybe we can have some laughs of our own. I mean, humor should be even easier if I don't have to dodge ogre-shaped crooks like The Creeper, sexy, dangerous redheads, and weasily sales managers. Plus, if anybody ever discovers my blog, I could actually converse with real people--interact with the world outside The Famous Author's twisted head. Sounds like fun to me. Like a character friend of mine named Igor said famously once, "It's alive! It's alive."

One thing. In order to keep breathing, I have to post regular excerpts from The Famous Author's upcoming novel. I know. It's a pain. But this thing has to be done. Something about (1) me not actually having a physical body, and (2) The Famous Author saying it was a deal-breaker if I didn't.

I promise not to put up long passages. And I'll post chapters (yesterday was the entire Prologue) in order, so my second published adventure, BIG MONEY, can always be read from the start. Of course, The Famous Author won't let me finish the story until well after BIG MONEY comes out in 2008. He still thinks he has a chance to make money writing novels.

Like I said, what a dope.

Talk to you tomorrow. AC

Friday, August 14, 2009

Make Money in the HOV Lane

They say time heals all wounds, and right now some of the stocks the market wrote off last year are coming back with strength. The financials. The retailers. Even -- gasp -- housing stocks. One of our favorites is Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. (HOV), which designs, constructs, markets and sells single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, mid-rise and high-rise condominiums, urban infill, and active adult planned residential developments.

HOV's homebuilding operations consist of six segments: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Southeast, Southwest and West. Its financial services operations provide mortgage loans and title services to the customers of its homebuilding operations. As of October 31, 2008, the Company offered homes for sale in 284 communities in 44 markets in 18 states throughout the United States.

Why would I like HOV? The housing market is still on its ass. Prices are falling. Unemployment is rising. Who the heck can afford a new home?

All good questions. We just think last month's statistics showed the bottom is here. First rise in prices in 30 months. Plus, HOV began preparing for this fiasco back in 2006 when they started selling off inventory and not adding to their backlist of new projects. They've been building cash for two years.

More important, HOV just bought back about $375 million worth of their outstanding bonds -- at prices around 60 cents on the dollar. Think about it. The company feels strong enough to go out in the market and make a tender offer for their sharply depressed bonds ... think that's somebody about to go out of business?

We're looking for a double over the next 12 months.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Redhead of the Week Ain't Sorry

Whuppin' ass wasn't so hard, Stella Hardesty thought as she took aim with the little Raven .25 she took off a cheating son-of-a-bitch in Kansas City last month.

What was hard was making sure it stayed whupped.

Especially on a day when it hit a hundred degrees before noon. And you were having hot flashes. And today's quote on your Calendar For Women Who Do Too Much read Find serenity in unexpected places.

"Fuck serenity," Stella said. And she shot the trailer

The creator of Stella Hardesty, author of a brand-new, very hot seller A BAD DAY FOR SORRY, is Sophie Littlefield, who grew up in central Missouri, her website says, the "daughter of a history professor father and an artist mother. She earned a degree in computer science and made very little use of it. After living in Chicago for ten years, she and her husband packed up the kids and moved to Northern California in 1998."

Her new crime novel, out this month from St. Martins, is getting the BIG BUZZ and strong early sales numbers. Here's what Publishers Weekly says: "Littlefield's amusing, sassy debut introduces Stella Hardesty, a widow and survivor of domestic violence, who owns a sewing shop in a sleepy Missouri town. On the side, Stella solves problems and metes out justice on behalf of battered women, like Chrissy Shaw, whose abusive bully of an ex-husband, Roy Dean Shaw, Stella keeps tabs on.

"After Roy Dean absconds with Chrissy's baby, Stella learns he's involved with local mobsters in a stolen auto parts ring. Chrissy sheds her victimhood to team up with Stella and do battle. After girding up their weaponry, the unlikely crime-fighting duo trick their way into the home of Roy Dean's mob boss, who they suspect has Chrissy's son.

"Stella discovers that no amount of preparation and righteous anger can prevail over pure evil, at least not without loads of trouble. Spunky, unapologetically middle-aged and a tad cantankerous, Stella barges bravely and often unwisely into danger." Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Go get'em Sophie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Another Beach Day

So The Famous Author is taking me and The Whip to The Hamptons today. He's going to play The Great Gatsby, hanging out in his white linen suit at the bookstore, while me and the Mrs. sun ourselves on the beach. He doesn't know if we're going to East Egg or West Egg, but he says F. Scott will be there with him in spirit. Urging him to damn the torpedoes and speed ahead.

Me, I think he's whistling in the dark. I just hope it doesn't rain.

Wikipedia on The Hamptons: "The Hamptons refers specifically to the towns of Southampton and East Hampton on the east end of Long Island, New York. These townships occupy the South Fork of Long Island. According to the Census Bureau, the Hamptons have a land area of 213.18 sq mi. Officially they also have 463.34 sq mi of water area. Their total population as of the 2000 census was 74,431 inhabitants. By far their most populous community is Hampton Bays. The next most populous are Springs, North Sea, and East Quogue.

The Hamptons form a popular seaside resort, one of the historical Summer Colonies of the American Northeast. The Montauk Branch of the Long Island Railroad, Montauk Highway, and the Hampton Jitney provide connections to the rest of Long Island and to the City, while ferries connect North Haven and Montauk to Shelter Island and Connecticut. The strictest definition of "The Hamptons" refers to the South Fork of Long Island east of the Shinnecock Canal."

If you've never read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, please do so. Writers should know what they're shooting for.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Joe Pike Arrives January 12

THE FIRST RULE, Robert Crais's second "Joe Pike Novel," will hit stores January 12, 2010, RC told his fans this week. He also gave us a peek at this cover.

RC read from THE FIRST RULE July 15 as part of the Clarion Writers Workshop at University of California, San DIego. Fans from as far away as Tucson, Phoenix, and Northern California jammed Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore to learn hear pieces of Joe Pike’s latest adventure. You can listen at Pop Culture Nerd who recorded the reading and reported on the crowded event.

RC's letter to fans also had a lot to say about the Clarion writers workshop:

"RC began his writing career at the Clarion Writers Workshop at Michigan State University way back in 1975. That same workshop continues, and is now held on the beautiful La Jolla campus of the University of California—San Diego. Each summer, eighteen talented aspiring writers live and work together for six pressure-packed weeks (they don’t call Clarion the writer’s boot camp for nothing!) This year, RC was privileged to teach the workshop’s third week.

"Each day, students write (the goal is to complete and submit one new short story per week), read their classmates’s stories (typically twenty- to twenty-five thousand words of new fiction per day), and offer detailed critiques (requiring that each story be read two or three times.) Sleep? Fuggidaboudit! Four hours per night is the norm."

What a great way to spend your vacation, huh? You writers are nuts!!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Redhead of the Week Bites, Reads Comics

Okay, sure TRUE BLOOD would be a hit TV show without her, but half the reason we tune in to Charlaine Harris/HBO's showcase for the supernatural every Sunday is because we like to watch Deborah Ann Woll play Jessica, the redheaded virgin vampire who lives with her maker, Bill. You know, Sookie's vampire love interest. The other half-reason we watch is because Jessica always runs around in her underwear.

According to her website bio (which we think she might have penned herself), Deborah Ann "was born on February 7th, 1985 which makes her 23 years old. She is of German and Irish decent. Deborah was born in Brooklyn but ended up going to USC because of the way it allowed her to explore her acting. In 2007 she graduated from USC(University of Southern California), where she had majored in theater.

"Deborah didn’t always know she wanted to be a actress, she knew she wanted to be a proformer but she wasn’t sure what kind. By highschool she had realised it was the acting she wanted to persue and often got the leads in plays and even if she didn’t she would get a role that required hard work and energy.

"Deborah then got her first guest role on “Life” as Nancy which then lead to a bunch of other guest roles on shows such as “ER”, “My Name Is Earl” & “The Mentalist”. This eventually lead her to land her breakout role as Jessica on the hit HBO show, “True Blood”. When Deborah first joined “True Blood” she had no idea she would get a big role, she just thought her role was going to be there for two episodes but then for the second season she was asked back to play the young vampire.

"Deborah has Celiacs disease which in her own words is a severe intolerance or allergy to wheat products or Gluten. She has said it isn’t that bad and she’s learning to live with it. Deborah also is a big supporter of The Choroideremia Research Foundation, as he boyfriend has the disease. It is an eye disease which slowly makes him go blind. To read more about this and other charites Deborah suports please go here.

"Outside of acting and work Deborah enjoys reading comic books, playing Japanese logic games & computer games. She also likes to play the piano which she has had 15 years experience of playing. She is a Certified Lifeguard & has had 7 years experience of Latin and Swing dance. She has also mastered the accents of Brooklyn(which is her native accent), Irish, Bosnian, British RP, Pennsylvania Dutch."

Thanks Deborah. See you next week!