Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kidnapped By Love!

Ok, this is one of those things that happen, you couldn't put it in your novel because it's too unbelievable. I'm warning you now. Her name is Becky. We fell in love in a matter of minutes last Tuesday. I told The Famous Author I was going out, left a false trail toward Canada, then flew to Vegas, got married, and now I'm on my honeymoon. One day, Jersey to Vegas to Cabo San Lucas.

See? It's too unbelievable. Things like this don't happen. And yet here I am, me and The Beckster, sipping and sunning down Mexico way. I don't know if I want to be the star of TFA's novels anymore. This is much more fun.

Right, Becky?


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Austin Carr Missing

BRANCHTOWN, NJ -- Hi. I'm The Famous Author, Austin's boss, and I thought I'd better sign in today and...uh, guest blog for my character. Truth is, I haven't seen or talked to Austin since Monday.

Shortly after his Wikipedia-lifted piece on redhead Sarah M. posted, he received a phone call from Canada, then said he was going out for coffee. No one here has seen him since.

I can't believe he got a call from Sarah M. and he flew off to see her or something. Why would a big star like her go for a second-rate stockbroker from New Jersey? And a fictional one at that? Doesn't make sense. That was the rumor around the office yesterday and today, but I'm not buying it. Millions of people live in Canada. Just because Austin got a call from Canada, doesn't mean it was Sarah.

So what to blog about? Hmm. You know, I never went for this blogging idea. Seems like a tremendous diversion of resources, Young people may equate resources with cash, savings, investment. But at a certain age you realize the only resource you have is time. YOUR time.

I sure hope Austin comes back soon.

-- TFA

Monday, January 26, 2009

Redhead of the Week

Sarah McLachlan, who'll be 41 Thursday, is a Grammy-winning Canadian musician, singer, and songwriter known for the emotional sound of her ballads, including "Angel", "Building a Mystery", "Adia", "Possession", "Fallen", "I Will Remember You", and "World on Fire".

At 17 and still a student at Queen Elizabeth High School in Nova Scotia, Sarah fronted a short-lived rock band called The October Game. One of the band's songs, "Grind", credited as a group composition, can be found on the independent Flamingo Records release 'Out of the Fog.' Her high school yearbook predicted she was "destined to become a famous rock star."

She recorded the first of her albums, Touch, in 1988, which received both critical and commercial success and included the hit song "Vox". During this period she also contributed to an album by Moev, and embarked on her first national concert tour as an opening act for The Grapes of Wrath. Her 1991 album, Solace, was her mainstream breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles "The Path of Thorns (Terms)" and "Into the Fire". Solace also marked the beginning of her partnership with Pierre Marchand. Marchand and McLachlan have been collaborators ever since, with Marchand producing all of McLachlan's albums and occasionally co-writing songs.

In 1998, in addition to performing her own set, she performed a cover of Sad Lisa with rock band Phish at the annual Bridge School Benefit concert in California, hosted by Neil Young, after which McLachlan began an extended period away from recording or touring.

Sarah is also a big friend to animals. See the comment section for details.

Thanks to Sarah, jnantz, and Wikipedia

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kim Frost -- A New Voice in Mystery

Kimberly Frost is about 10 days away from her debut as a novelist, but the book -- WOULD-BE WITCH from Berkley -- has already started garnering raves -- and sales.

Here's the blurb on her first offering in the Southern Witch series: "The family magic seems to have skipped over Tammy Jo Trask. All she gets are a few untimely visits from long-dead, smart-mouthed family ghost Edie. But when her locket-an heirloom that happens to hold Edie's soul-is stolen in the midst of a town-wide crime spree, it's time for Tammy to find her inner witch.

After a few experiences with her dysfunctional magic, Tammy turns to the only person in small-town Duval, Texas, who can help: the very rich and highly magical Bryn Lyons. He might have all the answers-and a 007 savoir faire to boot-but the locket isn't the only heirloom passed down in Tammy's family. She also inherited a warning: stay away from Lyons.

In its January 13th newsletter to thousands of mystery fans all over the world, number one mystery bookstore Murder By the Book gave WOULD-BE WITCH a rousing recommendation:
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And here's a teaser of a new book due in three weeks from a Houston author...
Would-Be Witch (by Kimberly Frost; Berkley; trade paperback original; $14) Frost's debut novel is the first in a "Southern Witch" series, and it could not be more fun! Tammy Jo is to witchcraft what Stephanie Plum is to bailbonding or Wollie Shelley is to greeting cards. In this book, Tammy Jo starts to come into her witchly powers, years later than anyone in her family has ever come into their magic, and finds herself battling werewolves with two gorgeous men who want her, her ex-husband who is skeptical about all things magical and Bryn Lyons, a witch who her family told her to stay away from. A wonderful first book -- I can't wait to see more from Frost! Houstonian Kimberly Frost will have a book launch party here at Murder By The Book, Wednesday, February 4, 6:30 p.m., the day after the book goes on sale. To order or reserve these or any other books, please call 1-888-4Agatha. The website is

To visit Kim's website, click on the headline KIM FROST -- A NEW VOICE IN MYSTERY.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Mystery For Lehane

Dennis Lehane, 43, has written several award-winning novels, including A Drink Before the War and the New York Times bestseller Mystic River, which was later made into an Academy Award-winning film. Another novel, Gone, Baby, Gone, also was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film.

A Drink Before the War, his first novel, introduced the recurring characters Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, and won the 1995 Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel. He followed that with four more Patrick and Angie novels, all of which were widely acclaimed and loved by hundreds of thousands of fans (The Famous Author and me included).

Lehane has always been interested in different forums for his writing. His first play, Coronado, debuted in New York in December 2005. The play had its regional premiere at American Stage in St. Petersburg in April 2006 and its Midwest premiere in the fall of 2007 with Steep Theatre Company in Chicago. Coronado is based on his acclaimed short story Until Gwen, which was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly and was selected for both The Best American Short Stories and The Best Mystery Short Stories of 2005.

Lehane was also did some writing for HBO's hit series, The Wire.

And then this past fall, Lehane published THE GIVEN DAY, a huge, sprawling historical suspense novel centered around the Boston Police Strike early last century. Pleased with the success of Mystic River and the completion of his sweeping new work, thinking TGD might be the first of a trilogy, Lehane last year told writing students (Writers In Paradise, Eckard College, St. Petersburg) that he was "done with mysteries." He said Patrick and Angie were finished.

Well, thank goodness Mr. Lehane has changed his mind. He's told several interviewers in the last month that he's working on another Patrick and Angie mystery. Yay! We can't wait. Thanks Dennis for making our day.

Thanks to Wikipedia and Dennis Lehane, a very nice man, too. Click on the headline ANOTHER MYSTERY FOR LEHANE to read what he said about my upcoming adventure, BIG MOJO, after reading 50 pages.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Scary Man

Last Friday, the U.S. Postal Service commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, one of America’s most extraordinary poets and fiction writers. According to those guys and gals who deliver our mail, English poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson dubbed Poe “the literary glory of America,” and Sherlock Holmes's creator, British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, called Poe “the supreme original short story writer of all time.”

High praise, but well-earned. Some of Edgar's short tales are more than stories. They're heart-pounding adventures. Trips into a creative and morbid mind, with images and revelations that make you put down the book and shiver.

One of my favorites is "Berenice," a horror story first published in the Southern Literary Messenger in 1835. The story follows a man named Egaeus who is preparing to marry his cousin Berenice. Gloomy Egaeus has a tendency to fall into periods of intense focus, during which he separates himself from the outside world. Oh, it's worse than creepy. Contemporary readers were horrified by the story's violence, and complained to the Messenger's editor.

You can read Poe's whole story BERENICE by clicking on the headline, ONE SCARY MAN. And don't be put off by the first paragraph. 175 years ago, they liked to wind up.

The stamp portrait of Edgar Allan Poe is by award-winning artist Michael J. Deas, whose research over the years has made him well acquainted with Poe’s appearance. In 1989, Deas published The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe, a comprehensive collection of images featuring authentic likenesses as well as derivative portraits. Old Edgar looks a bit gloomy, too, doesn't he.

Thanks to The Rap Sheet and Wikipedia.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Take No Crap

What makes a hero a hero? What makes him or her likeable?

Is it saving threatened damsels? Beating up three bad guys with his bare hands? Fighting government or corporate corruption? Being nice to children and pets? Maybe every reader has their own hot buttons, a list of things they like their heros to be, but The Famous Author and I think we've discovered something.

The key ingredient: Heros take no crap.

Probably not many of you have read NUMBER ONE, a memoir by the late great baseball player and coach, Billy Martin. In his book, popular more than a decade ago, Billy Martin opens with a story about his Italian mother. When a neighbor antagonized Billy as a small boy, Mom walked next door, rang the bell, and when the offending neighbored opened up, Billy's Mom immediately punched him in the nose. "Take no s---," Billy's mom told him.

Billy said it was his biggest lesson in life, and we think it applies in fiction. Heros should never take crap. Why? Because we all do, every day -- from our bosses, our friends, our spouses, even strangers who push and shove and cut in front of us. We HATE that. We want to get even. But alas, society frowns on physical assaults. We suck it up until we get home and watch TV, or get in our chair and read a book. In this new world, where we imagine ourselves in exciting places and with exciting people, we don't have to take crap. We deal it out to the bad guys.

My favorite at this -- the guy who really understands the concept -- is Elmore Leonard. Think of HOMBRE, or better, the opening of GET SHORTY. The bad guy takes our hero's jacket. Does our guy let it go? Hell, no. He marches to the bad guy's house, punches him in the nose, and takes his jacket back.

And we LOVE him for it.

Sorry for the rant. I'm just tired of taking crap. Hey TFA, where's our Elmore Leonard collection?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Funny, I Was Serious

I read on Facebook that another list of mystery novel award nominees is being announced Friday morning, so I called The Famous Author to see if we had a shot. Austin Carr could use some good publicity right about now.

"Unlikely," TFA said. "Not enough people read our books. Plus, we're not eligible."

"That's a problem."

"Worst of all," TFA said, "we do funny mysteries."

"What's wrong with funny mysteries, making people laugh?"

"Critics and judges go for traditional mysteries, or the serious stuff, you know ... noir."

"Screw'em all, TFA. We're artists, right?"

"Yeah. Starving artists."

SPECIAL PROGNOSTICATION: TFA's fellow NY/MWA member Chris Grabenstein will be nominated by the Edgar committee for his fourth John Ceepak Mystery, HELL HOLE. Just about every top 10 list for 2008 we read on Dorothy L the past two weeks has mentioned Chris's book, his first with St. Martins. Way to go Chris! If we're wrong, our vision incorrect, then screw'em all, dude. You deserved to be.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Redhead of the Week

Jamie Michelle Luner, an American television actress, is probably best known for her role as Lexi Sterling on the night time soap opera Melrose Place. Born in Palo Alto, CA, Jamie is 37 years old.

After guest starring in several episodes of the sitcom Growing Pains, Luner went on to star as Cindy Lubbock in a spinoff, Just the Ten of Us (1988-1990), then returned to television in 1993 in the TV movie, Why My Daughter?, starring opposite Linda Gray. Luner followed this up with a succession of TV movies, most notably Confessions of a Sorority Girl (1994), which began her extended professional association with producer Aaron Spelling.

Luner's next big break came in 1996, when she was cast as scheming vixen Peyton Richards in Spelling's prime-time soap opera, Savannah (1996-1997). Later in 1997, Luner was cast in Spelling's Melrose Place, playing the role of scheming Lexi Sterling until the show's conclusion in 1999. In 1999, immediately following the cancellation of Melrose Place, Luner was cast as Rachel Burke, Ally Walker's replacement in NBC's Profiler. She played the role until the show was cancelled at the end of its fourth season in 2000.

Following the cancellation of Profiler, Luner continued to work steadily, with guest appearances on several television shows including The Outer Limits, CSI: Miami and a three-episode arc on That's Life. In 2000, Luner also starred in the independent feature Sacrifice, along with Michael Madsen. In 2003, Luner starred opposite Nicholas Lea in the SCI FI Channel original movie Threshold, and in 2004 guest-starred in an episode of NCIS.

In 2007, Luner appeared, as Susan in the comedy Black and Bluestein at The Santa Monica Playhouse. Also that year, Luner starred in Nuclear Hurricane, a Sci-Fi Channel original movie, and made a guest appearance on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Thanks to Jamie and Wikipedia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Investment Made Easy

Back in October, Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times about how the time to be greedy was when other people were fearful. That was the time to start investing in stocks, he said. Prices might fall farther, Mr. B warned, but in the long run -- five, ten years -- starting to buy now would look smart.

Mr. B's advice came a little early, as this chart shows, but the Market seems to have bottomed in November. Because Mr. B has such a sparkling record of buying stocks cheap, we thought we'd remind you people again that it might not be a bad idea to start putting a little cash into stocks yourself.

I repeat my advice from October on what to do...

"Here's one idea: SPY is an American Stock Exchange-traded fund that holds all of the S&P 500 Index stocks. Every big name blue chip you can think of. Well, minus a few recent casualties. Spreads the risk of picking a stock. Just a way to play the whole economy. Less than 1% in expenses. You can add or subtract from your holdings all day long, not just once, whenever you want. A great way to save: Each month when you do the bills, write yourself the first check. Buy a few shares of SPY."

A few years from now, you'll wish you'd listened.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Star Trek Junkies

For an official BIG MONEY WORLD TOUR T-shirt, guess the name of this part-time actress who says she appeared in one episode of Star-Trek: The Next Generation.

No clue? She's probably lying. I haven't seen EVERY single episode of TNG, but you can count the ones I've missed on the fingers of one hand, and I sure the heck don't remember this woman. Maybe she played an extra in one of those scenes where Captain Picard talks to the Admiral back at the Federation's San Francisco office.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Odd Man Out

Over at that famous and much-traveled crime fiction blog, The Rap Sheet, J. Kingston Pierce has been chosen. Picked, as it were, to detail 16 random things about himself. Pretty odd stuff, too. You can check it out by clicking on the headline, ODD MAN OUT.

It's a game circulating through the crime fiction community this week, you get tagged, you give out these 16 random factoids about yourself, and then you pick 16 other people to do the same. Sounds like a lot of fun. Who doesn't like games?

So The Famous Author has been waiting. Waiting and waiting and waiting as one crime writer after another -- his crime fiction friend list -- chooses their 16 pals. Sandra, Rosemary, Jeff. They all chose their 16 friends. TFA is still waiting. He says he's starting to feel like the overweight, non-athletic kid who gets picked last for the team at every school recess. No one wants HIM on their team. No one will pick poor TFA.

Of course TFA isn't the ONLY minor crime fiction author sitting this game out. The line here waiting to be chosen is pretty long. It's just that, well ... they're all starting to feel a little overweight and ugly.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Redhead of the Week

McKenna Jordan, the new owner of Murder By the Book in Houston, gets her picture in the Houston Chronicle as a result of her being mentioned in two of Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books.

The story, which you can read in full by clicking on the headline, REDHEAD OF THE WEEK, is about Charlaine and her connection to the famous bookstore. McKenna's name is used for a minor character and a clothing-store clerk.

Harris’ first Sookie Stackhouse novel, Dead Until Dark, sputtered into existence in 2001 with some help by Dean James, then the general manager of Murder By the Book.

Harris’ agent wasn’t keen on the idea of a vampire series, but bowed to James’ recommendation for the book and his knowledge of the genre and the market.

“I read it practically in one sitting and said, ‘This is wonderful,’ ” said James, who now works as a librarian in the medical center.

After two years, Dead Until Dark found a publisher, Harris said.

“The book might not have been published if he didn’t love it,” Harris said.

James was rewarded for his support with an acknowledgement at the start of the book. But his namesake in the book and show, Dean, is a very important collie. To give away more would spoil a surprise.

“Dean just has got sweet eyes, and I thought that was a sweet tribute to him,” Harris said.

Employees of Murder by the Book have appeared in Harris’ other works. But the 26-year-old new owner of the store, McKenna Jordan, gets a nod in two of the Sookie books. Her name is used for a minor character, a clothing-store clerk.

“I might just say, ‘Can I help you,’ but I’m in there,” Jordan said.

After more than two decades of writing, Sookie has taken Harris to best-seller lists. Now the publisher picks up the publicity tab. The first Sookie books were originally published in paperback. But the newer ones started in hardcover.

The HBO show, by Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, has earned a dedicated fan base and two Golden Globe nominations, one for best television drama and another for Sookie.

In 2007, the publisher ACE Books shipped about 230,000 copies of the books to stores and customers. True Blood has boosted book sales. Since it first aired in the fall, the publisher sent out 2.3 million copies of the paperbacks, said Jodi Rosoff, associate director of publicity for ACE. Before the holidays, special box sets of all eight novels sold about 130,000 copies.

“It was successful before the show,” Rosoff said. “She moved from paperback to hardcover, and that is always a sign of success. But since the show there is a whole new audience that I don’t think would have gone to this type of book.”

Thanks to TARA DOOLEY of the Houstin Chronicle.