Wednesday, June 1, 2016

My Indy 500 Adventure

I still can't believe everything I got to do in the past week that I spent in Indianapolis. It was a dream trip, and I came home with exactly the kind of insider understanding I need to have to write a book about Kate Reilly tackling the Indy 500. I won't claim to have all the details yet, but I have the general idea!

Here are the highlights, with more details and photos below:

  • Book events: speaking at one high school, two libraries, and one bookstore
  • Talking books with racing driver Pippa Mann (right, at one of the libraries)
  • A hot lap around the speedway (up to 120 mph)
  • Walking the track's front straight and pit lane before dawn on race day
  • Working for ESPN in the pits during the race
  • Seeing friends and eating outstanding gluten free waffles and pizza
Book Events
I made lots of new racing friends and met quite a few readers also. And it turns out, when you invite a racing driver to a book talk—especially when it's a local favorite and the only woman in the field—you increase your typical audience by tenfold. 

Lucky for me, Pippa Mann is a self-proclaimed "book nerd," and was happy to come talk to the audience about helping me with the details of my book. She also told everyone about her Get Involved campaign to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the pink car that she drove in the race (to an outstanding 18th place finish!).

A Hot Lap Around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The track is big. BIG. Two and a half miles, which only take about 40 seconds during the race, but which took at least a minute in a street car. Yes, it was over too soon, but with the street car in the hands of a professional racing driver, I got a sense of the racing line.

Other funny note: I knew our driver, Martin Plowman (aka, Plowey), and as a result, he spent most of the lap skootched sideways to look at me, with only one hand on the wheel, and barely looking at the track. As he hit 120 on the straights. But hey, he's a pro, that was a Sunday drive for him!

Pre-Dawn on Race Day
We got there early with friends who are part of the media. And as my friend Tony DiZinno put it, "Ironically, it’s the quiet moments of peace and reflection – more than the noise of 33 cars and 350,000 of your closest, screaming friends – that make you appreciate this place most. You feel the soul of the place most on race morning, early, pre-5 a.m., out on the course before the gates open to the public and you walk on the pavement, a track where so much history has been written."

We were out there at 4:30 a.m. on race day, and it is definitely a magic time, to think of some much to come that day, and so much that's come before. My favorite part of every race weekend is being there in the days and hours before the race, feeling the adrenaline and tension ramp up, seeing the crowds appear, and it was more true at Indy this year with the size of the crowd and the epic nature of the race than ever before. (It even made up for getting up the night before to get there!)

The 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500
I was in the pits, on official ESPN business (full ESPN team at top, pit reporting team below). I had a radio in each ear and a clipboard and pen in my hands. I tried to keep up with when 10 different cars stopped and what adjustments they made...although, thankfully, since I was covering the last 10 starters in the field, when I missed most of that information for most cars, it wasn't a big deal. I started to learn when to pay attention, and I sent at least one piece of useful information to the folks doing the actual broadcast. 

Mostly, I had fun. I saw in detail what happened throughout the race, and I gained a better understanding of the flow and changes that happen during the 500. I also had 10 teams' radio transmissions in one ear, so I got about as good a sense of what drivers and teams are saying and dealing with during a race as possible. 

The whole week, two thoughts kept running through my mind:
  1. I can't believe I get to do this.
  2. I hope I can write something worthy of these experiences.
I owe a massive thank you to a few people in particular: Steve and Liz, Tony, Patsy, Patti, Pippa, Meesh, Carolyn, and Jon. You all rock! I'm going to go away and write for three months, but after that...see you at Sonoma?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Find Me in Indy

Next week, I'm headed to Indianapolis for a combination of book promotion, book research, and fun. I'm starting to make a list of everyone I've said "I'll see you there!" to, in the hopes of meeting so many social media friends face-to-face, but hopefully you'll all help me out by trying to find me, too.

Here's my schedule for the week...and I hope to see you somewhere along the way!

Wednesday, May 25
11 a.m.  Pike High School, Indianapolis, IN
6:30 p.m.    Irvington Branch, Indianapolis Public Library, Indianapolis, IN

Thursday, May 26
11 a.m.  Carmel Clay Public Library, Carmel, IN
**Indy 500 driver Pippa Mann will join me!**

Friday, May 27
Carb Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Saturday, May 28
3 p.m.  IndyReads Books, Indianapolis, IN

Sunday, May 29
The 100th Running of the Indy 500

And if you're not in Indianapolis next week, you can always follow me on social media: Facebook and Twitter. I'll be posting lots of photos and updates!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Month of May

The title of this post means different things to different people. To normal people, it's nothing special. A description, nothing more. To racing fans--IndyCar fans in particular--it means the buildup and the excitement of "the greatest spectacle in racing." The Indy 500.

Me? I mean both. My month starts and ends with book events, and lucky for me, it also ends with the Indy 500. So for this month, I'll be talking about a variety of opportunities I'm going to get to talk about my book, but I'm also going to be talking a lot about a very special car that's going to be on the track for the great race.

For the third year, Pippa Mann (above with me) will be driving the pink #63 car for the Susan G. Komen foundation in the race and racing money for the foundation throughout the month. Her goal? $100,000. All month, she's going to be offering special opportunities and merchandise to fans and supporters to help meet that goal...such as putting a loved-one's name in the cockpit with Pippa as she runs the race.

That means, all month, in addition to talking about my new book, I'm also going to be urging everyone I know to get involved and support Pippa's efforts. I hope you'll join me, and I hope you'll find me somewhere along my journeys!

May 7, Phoenix, AZ, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.: CozyCon at The Poisoned Pen bookstore

May 11, Berkeley, CA, 7 p.m.: Literary Salon (book talk and signing) (RSVP for directions)

May 15, South Pasadena, CA, 2 p.m.: Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles meeting, reading from Red Flags

May 22, Irvine, CA, 3 p.m.: Sisters in Crime, Orange County, speaking about writing, racing, and research

May 25, Indianapolis, IN, 6 p.m.: Irvington Branch, Indianapolis Public Library

May 28, Indianapolis, IN, 3 p.m.: IndyReads Bookstore

May 29, Indianapolis, IN: The Indy 500, where I'll be cheering for the pink car, driven by Pippa Mann

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!