Thursday, March 24, 2016

Meet Me in Long Beach

I'll be at the Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend, and I'd be delighted to deliver pre-ordered, signed copies of Red Flags. (However, I can't carry a dozen books around with me all day to sell, so they have to be pre-ordered.)

It's just two easy steps to make this happen!

Step 1: Buy the book: 
  • Buy one on your own and meet me to get a signature (see times/locations below).
  • Pre-order, meet me, and I'll deliver it. To pre-order:
    • Email me with quantity and selection of books, and I'll send you info on how to pay
      • Paperback $16
      • Hardcover $27
Step 2: Meet me:
  • Friday, April 15, 11 a.m. in the paddock 
  • Saturday, April 16, 9 a.m. at Starbucks in the Renaissance Hotel
  • Saturday, April 16, 1 p.m. in the paddock
Paddock location: IMSA paddock (see blue arrow on map; against track fence on right at the bottom of the stairs)

For a different time/place or to request any other books, comment here, message me on FB or email me (

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Scenes from Left Coast Crime

Last week was the annual, epic mystery convention we call Left Coast Crime. I came home with the same convention crud (cold/flu) as a bunch of other attendees, as well as a host of incredible memories. Only the memories will last!

Here are some of the highlights...

Hanging out with my wonderful Poisoned Pen Press editor, Annette Rogers.

Taking part in a great panel on strong women (though we agreed a) it's time it's just "women" and b) we'd like to see the "weak men" panel sometime)
(l to r: Francine Matthews, Allison Brennan, Mark Coggins, Deborah Crombie, and me)

Rocking killer shoes with Rochelle Staab

Treating our LCC banquet guests to goodies and tiaras
(with my co-host, Rochelle)

Sharing tiaras with a few other deserving folks 
(clockwise from top left: Annette Rogers, Ingrid Willis, Jenn McKinlay, Catriona McPherson, Rochelle, and me)

Moderating the closing panel, an interview with LCC's guests of honor (Ann Cleeves, Catriona McPherson, Gregg Hurwitz, and Chantelle Aimee Osman)

I can't wait for next year. See you all in Hawaii!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Find me at Left Coast Crime

I'm off to Phoenix today for the annual gathering of mystery writers, readers, and fans on the left side of the United States. Yes, it's finally time for Left Coast Crime, The Great Cactus Caper! (I say "finally," because I've been part of the planning committee for more than a year, and that means a lot of buildup and anticipation.)

But it's finally here! I'll be busy with lots of fun activities, including a couple panels and an Author-Reader Connection event, where I'm treating three mystery fans to lunch! But here's what I'm most excited about...

  • Author Brand-Building Workshop (Thurs 8a-12p), led by Deborah Lacy, a social media and marketing professional. She knows her stuff, and I'm ready to learn! (Though I'll be working as a class backup, so I may be bugging attendees later for notes.)
  • My donation for the silent auction: the Strong Woman Toolkit. It's loaded with inspiration and entertainment (including a set of Kate Reilly Mysteries), and I hope it raises good funds for LCC's charity: KidsRead USA.
  • My Cherchez La Femme, Women Overturning the Stereotype: Strong female sleuths as role models panel (Friday 11a), with panelists Allison Brennan, Mark Coggins, Deborah Crombie, and me, moderated by Francine Matthews (aka Stephanie Barron). 
  • The Discover Mystery Breakfast (Saturday 7:30-9a). Open to all attendees—find me at the table I'm hosting!
  • The Leftys Awards Banquet. Two words: Tiara Table.
  • Moderating the LCC Closing Panel: an Interview with the Guests of Honor (Sunday 12:30p). I hope everyone joins us for some final thoughts from Ann Cleeves, Gregg Hurwitz, Chantelle Aimée Osman, and Catriona McPherson.
I hope to see you all soon. And if you're there and I don't see you, find me!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Talking Tiaras

A couple years ago, my good friend and conference buddy Rochelle Staab asked if I was willing to host a banquet table at the annual Left Coast Crime convention with her. I, of course, agreed (I suggest to all of you that when a marketing-savvy and all-around fun friend asks you to do something with her, you say yes.)

Some background: Left Coast Crime is the annual fan convention for crime fiction writers, readers, and fans (and librarians and booksellers and...and) that takes place on the left side of the country (not always near a coast). During each LCC, there's a banquet, at which the Lefty Awards are presented. Different people are asked to host tables, and the general LCC attendance can sign up for the table of their choice. (Note: pay attention to the idea of signups!)

So I said yes, and Rochelle and I started brainstorming. You see, part of the tradition of table hosting is providing a fun atmosphere and some little gifts for your tablemates. Often, this is a copy of the author/host's latest book or some fun swag promoting the author's series.

While I give Rochelle all credit for the hosting ideas and the brilliance of the rest of the table decorations and giveaways, I will take credit for one, fundamental idea. That's right, tiaras. Because, really...

Here we are at LCC 2014 in Monterey:

Well, the idea went over so well that the next year, we were offered a hosting gig again. The tiaras made a triumphant return in Portland!

You probably see where this is going. We're about two weeks out from the LCC 2016 Leftys Awards banquet, and yes, there will be another Tiara Table! Here's what you have to do to join us:
  1. Pick up your registration packet early. 
  2. When you get your registration packet, look for the banquet table signups.
  3. Put your name down for the Tiara Table (Tammy Kaehler and Rochelle Staab). 
  4. Come to the banquet dressed like a queen! (Then again, tiaras go with everything.)
We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Taking Stock

So far the new year is starting like the old one finished: at world-record speed! Which means I need to figure out how to start keeping up.

I don't do resolutions (do you?), but I do try to take stock at the turn of the year and decide what I want from the year ahead.

2015 in review: I quit my day job, started a freelance business, and finished what I think is my best book yet. I started meditating. I took some yoga but didn't stick with it. I rediscovered a trainer and a gym, and dabbled a little. I really rested for the first time in eight years. I realized I wanted to talk with friends and family again. I returned to being the nicer person I used to be.

That sounds dramatic, but the year felt that way!

Ahead for 2016, personally: I'm going to keep up with the meditation and develop a real gym habit (watch out for kettlebell and unconventional fitness workout posts; also, some complaining). I'm going to make a living with my freelance writing business (I do technical and marketing writing, if you know anyone!). I'm going to appreciate every day that I get to work at home and not go to a day job.

On the 2016 book front:  I'm going to write the next Kate book set at the Indy 500 and make it the best book I've written. I'm going to start another book on a totally different topic and see where it takes me.... AND, I'm going to tell everyone as much as I can about my new book, Red Flags.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Out With the Old, In With the New

It's that time of year—yes, I mean frantic wrapping of presents and eating way too many sweets. But I also mean taking stock of what the old year yielded and what the new year promises.

Except that sounds WAY too passive. So let's make that what I made out of 2015 and how I'm going to rock 2016 even harder.

Out with the old:

  • Stress. For the past 8 years, December and January were the most stressful times of year, due to employee performance reviews and an annual conference at the day job. I quit the job in February, and I haven't missed it for a second...
  • Recovery. I slept more in 2015 than in any year in recent memory. I also read more books, sat around the house in a daze for more hours, and felt more generally lazy than I can ever remember feeling. A lot of people tell me this is what it's like to retire. I'm not exactly doing that, but I've had the time to recover from working too hard and caring too much the past few years. I was wrung out spiritually.
  • Mental deadness. It's been a long time since I've cared to engage in conversations about world events, interesting ideas, or funny questions. But I'm finally coming back to life.
  • Low spirits. I'm finally starting to mean it when people ask me how I am and I reply, "I'm good." Scratch that, I'm starting to respond with, "I'm great."

In with the new:

  • New business. I've been slowly building up a good clientele of freelance customers, and I've been working with great people and interesting products. I'm going to keep building that business in 2016.
  • New books. Kate #4 (Red Flags, set in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and at the Grand Prix of Long Beach) will be released in April, and I'm going to promote that. But I've also got some writing to do on Kate #5 (going to the Indy 500!) and a different project I've been tossing around in my head...nothing to talk about yet, but more when I have it.
  • Find my focus. In both the business world and the mystery world, I know I have unique skills to offer...but I haven't figured out exactly what my message or offerings are. I won't call this a mid-life crisis by any means, but it's probably a mid-life reconsideration—or as Dolly says, I want to do it on purpose. I want to pull together what I'm good at, what makes me happy, and what I can do that fulfills a need in the world. Then I'll aim at that target... 
  • Good habits. Regular exercise (hello, crossfit and kettlebells), regular meditation, and being grateful for the luxury of time. That's what 2016 will mean to me.
How about you? What are you happy to jettison with the old year and embrace in the new?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Travel Report 3: Buenos Aires

Last month, I snuck away for an 11-day trip to South America…this is part 3, the final part of my report (catch up on part 1: Rio deJaneiro and part 2: Iguazu Falls).

Our last stop on the tour was Buenos Aires, and it was definitely a more cosmopolitan city than Rio. Once known as “the Paris of South America,” it’s got lots of familiarly European buildings, as well as a booming live theater tradition.

What Buenos Aires offers over Paris and other similar cities is a mix of the traditional city look with the more colorful and sensual. And by “sensual,” I don’t mean sexual so much as appealing to the senses. Like the tango. Like colors and textures and quality food. Like the colorful houses in La Boca (second photo), the rose color of the government house (where Evita gave her famous speech and Madonna sang the song), like the gorgeous leather goods for sale everywhere, and like the good Argentinean beef.

And about that beef… Brazilians and Argentineans both love their beef and they love enormous portions. HUGE. I’ll be honest, by Buenos Aires, it was too much of a good thing. Now, I don’t eat beef, personally, but the rest of my family group did, and they continued to pack it away at every offering.

Some was better than others—they all agreed that the best beef empanadas were found at the Santa Susana Estancia, and the best beef was had at Chiquilin restaurant in Buenos Aires. But enough beef was enough, by the end of the 11-day trip. They’ve all sworn off until at least 2016.

The interesting culinary note was the complete lack of sauces. Meal after meal, the beef was served plain, maybe with onions on the side. Not even any salt and pepper on the table, and certainly no salsa or any other sauce. We returned home and made straight for the salsa, thanking M
exico fervently for pico de gallo. Chet decided Buenos Aires was like Paris in the middle of Texas—because right outside the cosmopolitan city were open fields. And beef.

As for the typical sights: the government house (“don’t cry for me…”), La Boca neighborhood, La Recoleta cemetary (where Evita is entombed), games by the gauchos at the estancia, tango, and a city view. And at the bottom of the post, us at the waterfront on our last night.


Final verdict? The most amazing sights were the topography and scenery of Rio and Iguazu Falls. But we don’t feel like we need to go back there. We’d happily return to Buenos Aires and other points in Argentina (like Patagonia) for more exploration. Overall, a great trip!