Monday, March 23, 2015

Missing My Friend

Last week was a lost one for me. I had a great time at Left Coast Crime the weekend prior, but I returned home needing two things: a doctor's appointment and to give up caffeine.

That's right, no caffeine. My sweet friend, that hot cup of milky black tea each morning. Dammit.

The reason, for any of you wondering, is that I have celiac disease, and I've been possibly pushing my limits with my daily dose of goodness. Possibly. Something has been giving me an unpleasant reaction lately, and since caffeine will be one of the first "get rid of it" orders a doctor will give, I decided to be proactive.

Though I've also been sad.

As a result of both my malaise and lack of stimulant, last week was ... mostly lost. I thought when the headaches stopped (day four), I'd get my energy back.

That's not exactly what's happened. I've gotten some work done, but mostly I've been sitting still, resting, and indulging my lack of motivation. Which is good for reading a lot of good books, but it's not so good for general productivity, book writing, or drumming up new work.

I'm not beating myself up about all this, because I figure it's still a bunch of detoxing and recovery from a lot of years of too much stress over the old day job. But I am starting to be eager to feel better and be more motivated.

So this week I'm turning over a new leaf. I'll get more done and do less resting. And I'll go back to my hot cup of tea--it'll just be decaf this time. And we'll see how this week goes....

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A New Attitude

I'm off to Portland tomorrow for the annual mystery convention known as Left Coast Crime. I'll be on a panel, co-hosting a lunch with a couple fans (with Tina Whittle), and co-hosting the Tiara Table at the banquet (with Rochelle Staab). Along the way, I'll be meeting, seeing, and catching up with dozens of writers and readers (many of whom are good friends).

I have a promise for you all this year: I'll be in a better mood!

Now that I have no day job, I'm recharging. Detoxing. Getting enough alone time so that I'm finally to the point of wanting to socialize again. Turns out—and I hadn't realized how much this was true until the pressure was off—I wasn't getting enough time to recharge my introvert's batteries. And that made me tired, sad, and anti-social. Even when I wanted to see and meet people.

But I'm more rested this time around. I've felt stirrings of interest in initiating social activities (for perspective, that hasn't happened in years). So I'm looking forward to seeing how much more I'm engaged at this upcoming convention.

Let's get real for a minute, however. Don't expect me to be the life of the party! Still an introvert over here.... (By the way, here's the best article/chart about introverts I've ever seen. As that shows, it's not about enjoying people, it's about where we get our energy.)

But I will promise to be more welcoming and friendly. So if you're at Left Coast Crime, find me, talk about pink hair (I have it), pick up some Team Kate earplugs (I'm sure you've got a use for them), and let's talk about good mysteries!

See you in Portland!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March Releases from Poisoned Pen Press!

Congratulations to my fellow Poisoned Pen Press authors with releases this month! I can recommend them both!

Kittens Can Kill, Clea Simon (find out more)

Partial description: The dead don’t keep pets. So when animal behaviorist expert Pru Marlowe gets a call about a kitten, she doesn’t expect to find the cuddly creature playing beside the cooling body of prominent Beauville lawyer David Canaday. Heart attack? His three adult daughters angrily blame drug interactions, feline allergies—and each other. And begin to feud over their father, his considerable estate, and that cute ball of fluff. 

This was the first of Clea's series that I read, and you can believe I'll go back to read the earlier titles in the series. A good story and a fun twist on animal mysteries.

Sherlock Holmes, The Missing Years: Japan, Vasudev Murthy (find out more)

Partial description: In a seriocomic novel that radically ups the ante, Sherlock Holmes and Watson find their match in more than one man (or indeed, woman) as a clock inexorably ticks. History, mystery, romance, conspiracies, knife-edge tension; a train in Russia, roadside crime in Alexandria, an upset stomach in Bombay, careening through Cambodia, nasty people in China, monks in Japan–here’s a thrilling global chase that will leave you breathless (occasionally with laughter) as the Sherlock Holmes: The Missing Years series begins.

I'm looking forward to the next books in the series, because this one was a lot of fun and very cleverly done. Good job, Vasudev!

And if you're a reader of Mystery Readers Journal, look for Barbara Leavy's article in the March issue, titled "Some Thoughts About Depressed Northern Detectives."

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

More Time

I've been quiet here of late because I was dealing with big changes in my life—and those usually take their emotional and physical toll. But now I'm free and more relaxed. It's the first day of the rest of my life.

Because as of this week, I'm unemployed. Or self-employed (though one looks like the other just now).

I left my day job of eight years last week, and I couldn't be happier. Though I'll miss my co-workers and the steady paycheck, I've grown tired of ... well, just tired.

For many years now, the common refrain in my head has been, "if I just had more time." I'd contemplate a long-weekend mystery convention and think about how tired I'd be on the way to it, because I'd be working right up until the plane flight, and then think of how tired I'd be on the Monday going back to work, because I'd be returning Sunday evening.

Mind you, I'm not someone who can go-go-go every minute of the day. I need considerable down-time, both physical and mental. (See: introverts who need quiet, alone time to recharge, though they enjoy being social.)

But now I'm going to have all the flexibility and time I want. I'm re-launching my freelance/contract writing business (TK Communications), and I'll be working on building my business over the next weeks and months. (So if you know of anyone who needs marketing, tech, or other material written, let me know!)

I'll also be working more regularly (and quickly) on Kate's next adventure. I'll also be more attentive to social media and blogs. And I'll hopefully have more time to take care of a lot of the details I let slide over the past months (ok, years).

We'll see how it all turns out, but I am hopeful. On to a new adventure!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Poisoned Pen Press February Releases!

Congratulations to my fellow Poisoned Pen Press-ers on their releases this month! The 

Chaos Theory is the first of The Kami Files, a new YA series from the Poisoned Pencil imprint. I just started reading it, and it's good! I predict more good stuff from M Evonne (Meg) Dobson. More info and links to buy on the PPP site.

The Magician's Daughter, by Judith Janeway, is another first in a new series, this one the Valentine Hill Mysteries, about a young woman who's a magician on a quest to find her con-artist mother. I'll be looking forward to the next in the series. More info and links to buy at PPP.

Satan's Lullaby is the 11th in Priscilla Royal's award-winning Medieval Mystery Series. It takes us back to the autumn of 1278 and to some dark doings at Tyndal Priory (of course!). It wins best title of the month. More info and links to buy.

And Jane Tesh offers up the fourth entry in her Grace Street Mysteries, Just You Wait. I haven't read this series yet, but it's going on my list, because this one sounds good. More info and links to buy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sharing My Reading List

I've often thought about sharing a reading list, but I've always put a lot of restrictions on myself about commenting on the books or rating them.

And I don't want to have to always do that. So I'm not going to. But what I will do is share what I'm reading every couple weeks. (I read a lot, so there will be plenty of books.)

I'm hoping you'll know some of them and tell me what you liked about them. Or better, that you'll tell me what you've read that I should check out.

(Alert: I've been on a cozy kick.)

Recent Reads

1. Jana DeLeon's series of Miss Fortune Mysteries, from Louisiana Longshot to Gator Bait.
I do love me a zany, madcap mystery series featuring a fiesty and smart female, and this has it in spades. (Thanks, Mom, for the recommendation!)

2. I also started reading DeLeon's Ghost-in-Law Mystery series, and I like it, but so far not quite as much as the Miss Fortune series.

3. Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot mysteries, more or less in order (I'm 2/3 of the way through the list. Imagine my surprise when I looked for a complete list and discovered I hadn't read some of them! Error rectified. The Blue Train was one of the welcome surprises on the list.

4. Heather Webber's Lucy Valentine series and a couple of the Nina Quinn novels. Not to mention Heather writing as Heather Blake in the Wishcraft Mysteries and Magic Potion Mysteries. I'd read most of them before*, and I enjoyed them again. I'm not much on supernatural stuff, but the touch of it in her books is fun. Light and sweet ... which is exactly what I've needed from my fiction lately.

5. Elizabeth Haynes, Under a Silent Moon, which I received in my book bag at Bouchercon. I'd never heard of her before, but wow, was I impressed with her suspense novel. It was creepy and clever!

So, what are you reading?

* I've started trying to re-read what I already own instead of buying new ... but then it turns out that I have to catch up to current with series, so I'm still buying more books. But fewer!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Telling Lies

Last Saturday I took part in Mystery on the Menu at the nearby (and gorgeous!) Cerritos Library.

Simon Wood was my partner in crime (there were 15 authors in total, so we were two of many, but I drove him around all day). (As a side note, it felt like old times, as we talked cars and writing and making a living. Sometimes I miss our old blog, Two For The Road.)

Simon was also the moderator of the panel I was on, in which we played the liar's game. Meaning, everyone on the panel told an anecdote, and one of us (each round) lied. Then the audience voted on who they thought was the liar.

And they didn't guess me.

What does that say? I've got an innocent face? I concocted a good story (it even had a lesson-learned)? They weren't going to suspect the one female on a panel of shifty-eyed males?

I'm not sure, but I was perhaps inappropriately proud of having gotten away with it. Which is, come to think of it, exactly how I feel when someone tells me they were totally surprised by who the killer was in one of my books.

Which leads back to the point of doing a Liar's Panel: it could be said that we lie professionally. It's strictly true, in that we all write fiction and work hard to trick the reader. It simply feels less like lying when it's not face to face.

Here's a shot of the audience from the stage. I highly recommend attending the event!