Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Celebration is in Order!

This blog exists for me to share my thoughts on a variety of topics. It does NOT exist for endless buymybook, buymybook, buymybook self-promotion. That said, this post is a little self-promotey, but only because last week was a pretty darn good week in my world. You see, like the garden now that it’s spring, good reviews of Dead Man’s Switch are bursting into flower!

And friends, you can’t begin to imagine the RELIEF I feel at reading these. Sure, I like the book, and some friends like the book (OK, my agent and publisher like it too), but there’s no guarantee the rest of the world is going to like it! So take the following as not “look at me, I’m so great,” but as me inviting you into the wonder of “oh wow, someone actually likes my creation. How utterly amazing!”

First to come along was Publisher’s Weekly, one of the book-review heavyweights. And they liked it! Calling it a “winning debut,” the reviewer commented, “Even those unfamiliar with this world will appreciate Kaehler's vivid descriptions of the intricate teamwork involved in racing, the amazing equipment, the split-second decision making required of the driver, and the pulse-pounding race itself.”

Read it all:'s a broken link on the Publisher's Weekly site, which I’m hoping they’ll fix soon, but for now here's a screenshot.)

Then I heard from new friend and award-winning author Vincent O’Neil (whose Death Troupe I just finished reading and loved), who kindly sent me the following:
With DEAD MAN'S SWITCH, Tammy Kaehler has brought the suspense world a whole new genre—car racing! Whether you know nothing about the sport or follow it closely, DEAD MAN'S SWITCH puts you on the track, behind the wheel, in the pits, and everywhere else as new heroine Kate Reilly tries to solve a murder that could end up taking her job, her freedom, or even her life. Trust me: You'll want to be there when the checked flag comes down.
—Vincent H. O'Neil, Malice Award-winning author of DEATH TROUPE

Vinny may be surprised how often I use “Trust me: You’ll want to be there when the checkered flag comes down.” I love that.

And last, but not least, Fresh Fiction posted a great review online, calling Dead Man’s Switch “chock full” of drama and the characters “full of life and believable.” In addition, the reviewer said, “As a long-time motorsports fan AND a mystery fan, I highly enjoyed this book. It wasn't condescending to those with racing knowledge, yet I don't think it would be overwhelming to those with no racing knowledge.” Just what I was aiming for.

Not to mention that the rain stopped, the clouds went away, and the sun is shining. Now, how to celebrate?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What Sue Grafton Told Me*

*And hundreds of other attendees at Malice

Last weekend I attended the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention in Bethesda, MD, commonly known as “Malice.” I had a fabulous time. Readers, writers, authors—and fans, all—of mysteries were there, happily talking to each other in the audience of panels, in the hallways, in the hospitality room. It was pretty much a mystery lovefest. Whether one was a writer or not, published or not, famous or not didn’t matter. We all chatted with each other.

Even Sue.

You see, Sue Grafton was the recipient of the lifetime achievement award at Malice, and for all her celebrity (at least in our world; if any readers of this don’t know who she is … well, for shame, and go look her up), she attended panels and events right along with us. She also smiled at us, chatted in the elevators, didn’t mind us praising her writing when we ran into her in the restroom (I’m lookin’ at you, Sandy!), told us about her chickens, and generally acted like a mere mortal, instead of a mystery-writing goddess.

Because she is … both of those. A mystery-writing goddess because, well, hey, 22 books. Mortal, because in a lot of ways, she’s just like me. Or I’m just like her (without the chickens).

Here’s why. She told us, “Fear is my constant companion,” and “I’m always scared to death. I never take anything for granted.” Holy smokes … but, 22 books, Sue? “Just because I’ve written 22 books, doesn’t mean I can write 23.”

On one hand, I think … you mean this fear will never end, will be my constant companion? On the other hand … hell, if she can do it and she’s scared, so can I. Potentially.

To be honest, we writers all know every writer is pretty much afraid at all times (AT ALL TIMES) that he/she/me will never write anything good, ever again. We know this. We joke about it to each other. But it still helps to hear it from someone successful. It’s not just the beginners like me who are terrified. If Sue Grafton occasionally burst into tears and thought she’d throw up on her computer during the writing of T is for Trespass (she started at A is for Alibi, people, that was a lot of books later!), then I am validated. Being scared does not imply I am or will be a failure. There is hope.

Not only is there hope, but there is also a feeling that maybe we writers are very brave. Sue also told us, “You have to be willing to fail. Every book you go into, you have to be working out on the edge of your talent.” I’m guessing that’s without a net. And that takes guts.

One last note. She referred to her latest pets as “a nice balance to the agony of sitting at my computer.” I’m thinking I might have to get me some chickens.