Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Uh-oh. What's the PROTOCOL for THAT?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Debut author day! And what fun to find a brand new author with a brand new book—not only the reading-of-it part, but the idea that there’s a person who now knows the joys and the delights, the terrors and the fears. The hugely satisfying moment when that new box of books arrives—and your dream has come true.
And you also know that inevitably, someone will ask: where did you get your idea? But ha! Kathleen Valenti has a terrific and tantalizing (and terrifying!) answer. Whoa. What would you do if this happened to you?

(There’s more about her book PROTOCOL below. And an ARC to one lucky commenter!)
(And yesterday's winners below!)

By Kathleen Valenti

My husband and I recently watched Apollo 13 with our two children. The film’s a favorite of ours and was a natural inclusion in our self-designed list of Films the Kids Must See. (Last month’s showing: The Princess Bride.)
Our pre-teen son is a movie mimic, so I knew he’d love the zippy one-liners. His favorite line wasn’t the iconic real-life utterance, “Houston, we have a problem,” but rather the reference to technological advances “like a computer that can fit into a single room.”
Forget space travel and rockets and astronauts stranded in a flying life raft. The idea of
a room-sized computer was what captured his imagination.
It made me think of how far technology has come.
That computer that guided the astronauts’ journey? It can now fit inside a cell phone. And that cell phone? In a recent survey, eighty-four percent of Americans said they couldn’t go a day without it.
It also called to mind the genesis of one of my book’s primary storylines.

Technology has a starring role in my debut novel, Protocol, not because I’m super-techy (understatement alert), but because its omnipresence, with all of its attendant risks, gave me an idea for a murder mystery after I had my own technology puzzle to solve.

Several years ago, I sent my laptop to the manufacturer for repair. It came back with someone else’s hard drive, complete with all its digital contents. Turned out the computer snafu went both ways. My hard drive had been swapped into the computer that once housed the stranger’s hard drive I now possessed.

The mix-up left both of us vulnerable and me with the seed of an idea for a hook for the book I always wanted to write.

Houston, I have an idea.

Ideas, as they say, can come from anywhere. Evidently that includes computer problems.

I have a love-hate relationship with technology, and I think many of us can relate. After all, it’s responsible for both important advancements in science and medicine (and cute cat videos) and a crack through which danger can crawl, whether by hacking, identity theft or something much more nefarious.
So what is technology for you? Blessing? Curse? The font of awesome BuzzFeed quizzes? (I just learned that if I were a sandwich, I’d be a PB&J.)

And what real-life events have inspired you creatively? We may not be astronauts stranded in space, but we all have moments—big, small, happy and tragic—that inform the stories we tell.

 HANK: Wait wait wait! What happened about the hard drive? 
(I admit I always take those tests, too. Except for the ones that make it clear they’re swiping your entire email list. Plus, it’s fun to take them twice and see how you can make them come out the way you want, right?)

And you know every one of the inciting moments of my books is a version of something that really happened to me.

But technobabble! The things that come out of  our mouths—the two years ago we’d have no idea what meant! (How many gigs of ram? I store it all in the cloud?)  

What have you said recently, Reds and readers, that surprised you with your techno-knowledge?

Or else: what's on your list of must-see movies for kids?

 (And see below for yesterday's winners!)

Kathleen Valenti is the author of Protocol, the story of freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley who embarks on a pharmaceutical career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. Yet on her very first day of work, Maggie’s pulled into a world of uncertainty as reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

When Kathleen isn’t writing page-turning mysteries that combine humor and suspense, she works as a nationally award-winning copywriter. She lives in Oregon with her family where she pretends to enjoy running. Protocol is her debut novel and the first of the Maggie O’Malley mystery series.
Pre-order Protocol here:
Barnes & Noble:


(Winners from yesterday--tell us your addresses via our websites or Facebook! Hurray--and thank you!)

Lucy's winner   Idteacher 14
Ingrid's winner  Hulamom
Hank's winner   Karen M from Kentucky
Rhys' winner .  Raquel Muniz 
Hallie's winner .Sally from PA. 
Jenn's winner  Coralee 

Debs' winner: Marni 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

David Handler--Hoagie and Lulu Are Back

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Is there anything more fun than a comeback story? For readers who have missed David Handler's charming celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag, Hoagie and his basset hound, Lulu, are back on the case. It seems that the Edgar award-winning series had some REALLY important fans, as David will explain!

DAVID HANDLER:  So Dan Mallory, executive editor of William Morrow, was having lunch one day with my literary agent, Dominick Abel, and I’m told the conversation went like this:

Dan: “Did you know that you represent my mother’s favorite author?”

Dominick: “Sara Paretsky?”

Dan: “No.”

Dominick: “Nevada Barr?”

Dan:  “No.”

Dominick: “Peter Robinson?”

Dan: “No.”

Dominick: “Okay, Dan, you’re going to have to help me out here.”

Dan: “David Handler.”

Dominick:  “David…?  I mean, David, certainly.  Very fine writer, Edgar winner…David?”

It turns at that Dan’s mother had been a huge fan of the series of eight novels that I wrote between 1988 and 1997 featuring the witty, dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu.  She loved the books so much she had even turned Dan on to them.  He recently informed me that he was fourteen when he read, and loved, his first Hoagy, “The Boy Who Never Grew Up.” What a remarkable coincidence, I told him.  That was the same exact age I was when I wrote it!

Anyway, back to the lunch. Dan asked Dominick if I’d ever considered bringing back Hoagy and Lulu.  Dominick gave him my standard response, which was that in our modern Internet age of 24-hour-a-day Tweets and viral videos there are no more celebrity secrets, certainly not the sort of juicy secrets that would make readers salivate over a star’s memoir and the failed novelist whose second career was penning those memoirs.  In fact, I’d already begun to see a major shift as far back as 1996 when America became riveted by the live, 24/7 cable news coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial.  The Hoagy series, I felt, belonged to a bygone era. It was over and out.

And so I moved on.  I wrote a thriller.  I wrote eleven books in my Berger-Mitry series, an extremely naughty mash-up of the traditional small town New England cozy, that takes place in the historic Connecticut shoreline village where I’ve lived for the past 30 years.  And I recently started another series featuring baby- faced 25-year-old New York City private eye Benji Golden, all 137 pounds of him, who is an ace at finding runaway teens.

But Dan Mallory, I quickly discovered, is not a man who takes no for an answer.  He gave a young editor at Morrow named Margaux Weisman a copy of my Hoagy Edgar winner, “The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald,” and asked her to read it.  She did, and reported that she’d gone ga-ga over all of the cool pop cultural references from way, way back in 1991 – when she was diapers – as would all of her friends.  Why didn’t I consider reviving the Hoagy series as period novels? 

Right away, I was intrigued.  After all, I did miss Hoagy.  And I really missed Lulu.  So I did some poking around on the Internet and, faster than you can say Joey Buttafuoco, I was transported right back to the year 1992.  Seinfield was on the air and Jerry still had hair.  Big hair.  It was a presidential election year, and candidate Bill Clinton, the former governor of Arkansas, seemed to be fighting off what became known as “bimbo eruptions” seemingly every week.  Speaking of big hair, remember Gennifer Flowers?  Remember Paula Jones? Remember who People magazine’s sexiest man alive was that year? Give up? It was Nick Nolte.

We did have personal computers.  I had a Mac LC, which was hooked up to a printer -- but not to anything else.  No modem.  No telephone dial-up.  There was no e-mail. American Online didn’t become popular until 1994 or so.  There were mobile phones for professional use but the wildly popular clamshell cell phone didn’t come along until 1996. The Internet arrived in 1997, Google in 1998.  Back in 1992 our idea of technology was the fax machine, churning, churning away.  That and a telephone answering machine. It seems like yesterday to me.  But it was a quarter-century ago.   Ancient history in techie world.

Soon I was more than intrigued – especially when Dominick phoned to say that Dan had just made me a two-book offer.  “Seriously, I would be absolutely nuts to turn this down, wouldn’t I?” I said to Dominick.  He agreed, in his understated British way.

And so here we are.  After a brief 20-year hiatus, Hoagy and Lulu are back on the scene in “The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes,” which takes them out to Hollywood in search of Richard Aintree, a famous American novelist who disappeared in 1970.  It also brings Hoagy back in contact with the first great love of his life, Reggie Aintree, a gifted poet who Hoagy knew long before he ever met his famous movie star ex-wife, Merilee Nash.

A number of people have asked me if it was hard to find Hoagy’s distinctive first-person voice again after so many years.  Not in the least.  I slipped right back into it.  He’s the same as ever, and yet he’s not -- because I’m not.  I’m 20 years older and while I won’t pretend to be wiser I am more battle scarred, wistful and insane.  I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had writing “The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes.” I love this book.  In fact, I think it’s the best book in the series.  But that will be up to Dan’s mother to decide.  I’m just going to continue having fun writing the next one, “The Man Who Couldn’t Miss.”

So many fans have written me over the years asking when Hoagy and Lulu were coming back.  I politely responded each and every time that they weren’t coming back, because I truly believed they weren’t.  After all, things like this don’t happen in the publishing industry.

Except for when they do.

DEBS: Um, can I just say, Nick Nolte? Really? 

But, seriously, I love the title and the cover of THE GIRL WITH THE KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, and I can't wait to go back to the days of big hair (and no social media) with Hoagie and Lulu. 

Witty and dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag and his faithful, neurotic basset hound, Lulu, are back on the case in search of the legendary American author Richard Aintree, who vanished in 1970 and has never been seen again. Their hunt takes them out to Hollywood, where they find themselves caught up in a major star’s murder. It also brings Hoagy back in touch with Aintree’s daughter, Reggie, a gifted poet who was the first great love of his life.

And here's more about David, who describes himself as a recovering journalist, and is the author of nine novels about the witty and dapper celebrity ghostwriter Stewart Hoag, including the Edgar and American Mystery Award-winning “The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald.”  He has written eleven Dorset novels featuring the crime-fighting duo of New York film critic Mitch Berger and Connecticut state trooper Desiree Mitry, as well as two featuring New York City private eye Benji Golden.  He is coauthor of the international bestselling thriller Gideon under the pseudonym Russell Andrews. He has also written extensively for television and films on both coasts for many years and was a member of the original writing staff that created the Emmy Award-winning sitcom “Kate and Allie.” He currently lives in a 200-year-old carriage house in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

DEBS: Reds and readers, what do you miss about the 90s? Tell us and say "hi" to David!

Monday, August 14, 2017

We're TEN!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Wow. I just had the most amazing trip down the Reds memory lane. I've read the first two months of Jungle Red blogs!  It wasn't just for nostalgia's sake, and more on that in a minute. 

But amazing fact number one:  We've been blogging as Jungle Red, in various incarnations, for ten years! Since March of 2007.
2007! TEN YEARS!

That was the year Nancy Pelosi became the first female speaker of the house, the first iPhone was released (at a price of $599), the housing bubble burst (with mortgage defaults up 93 % from the year before). It was the year of the Greensburg tornado, and Virginia Tech. Bob Barker left Price is Right. The Departed won Best Picture. (And the Red Sox won the World series, just saying.)

Our first blogs were SO different from the ones you see now. The first one, halting and uncertain and self-conscious was a conversation, sort of, about first lines. (So we're stayed on topic all these years) . But it had no photos. 

Reading back over those blogs (don't, okay?) you can tell it took us a while to find the Jungle Red voice. I love that evolution.

And since that day? We've had 4.5 million page views. Four point five million page views!  Something is keeping this baby going. And you know what? It's all of you. And for that we are infinitely grateful.

But we wanna know: Why do you keep coming back? What do you hear or see or enjoy? And when you read the Reds, do you do it on your desktop, or laptop, or phone? Do the photos work? Do you have any technical issues?  

Reds, what do you think about our Jungle world? 

HALLIE EPHRON: I remember the early days... Hank, you started it, didn't you? And I wasn't at all sure it would catch on. In the early days we didn't blog every day. Now it's a part of my daily routine and I look forward to hearing from so many regulars and surfacing lurkers.

And remember the Jungle Red quiz we'd ask of all our guests... 
Pizza or chocolate?
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn?
Restaurant or eat in?
It got a little tired so we stopped but it was pretty cute.

HANK: Oh, I loved the quiz! And yes, I was a founding member with Jan Brogan and Rosemary Harris--but Hallie, you came fourth, right? And started from day one.

Note Ross in the background here!
INGRID THOFT: Tin or diamonds?  That’s the question to be answered on one’s 10th anniversary!  The traditional wedding gift is tin, and diamonds is perhaps a bit extravagant, but ten years of original content and community is surely worth celebrating!  I’m relatively new to Jungle Reds, and I’m still a bit awestruck by the company I’m keeping.  Hank, Hallie, Julia, Lucy, Rhys, Debs, and my fellow newbie, Jenn, are smart, gracious, and talented, and I’m proud to share the masthead of Jungle Red with them.  I’m also amazed by the readers and commenters who show up each day with thoughtful, insightful, and entertaining comments.  There wouldn’t be a Jungle Red without all of you, so bravo, everyone!

LUCY BURDETTE: At the risk of sounding self congratulatory, hooray for the Reds! Ingrid has it right – it's not just the writing reds gang, it's our blog commenters who really make this a fabulous community. I was so pleased to be invited to join this group in the second wave of additions. I had no idea it would be so much work, but also a fantastic way for a writer to feel she's not alone. Of course I would prefer we all lived in the same town and could have potluck block parties, but since that's not possible, this is the next best thing.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Ten years! And do you know I had no idea exactly when Julia and I joined the blog? I had to hunt through the posts until I found my first one--January 10th, 2011. I can't believe it's been nearly seven years. Time flies when you're having fun, right? And I do mean that seriously. I can't imagine a day without Jungle Red. We are so lucky to have this ongoing conversation every day with friends all over the country--and I know there are lots of you out there who read and don't comment, but we love that you're there.

I did go back and read some of the very early posts, and while I'll agree that we are a bit more polished now, I think those early entries were adorable. And now I'm wondering how we could organize a virtual potluck....

JENN MCKINLAY: Debs, I make a killer mac and cheese which I am happy to bring to the potluck. Oh, and Ingrid, I'm voting for diamonds - in fact, can we all have tiaras? Even though I am a newbie to Jungle Red, the kinship I have found in the Reds community has been the greatest reward for me. I've met a lot of people in the writing world, but I can honestly say, I've never met a nicer or more supportive group than the people here. Thanks for inviting me to the party and here's to ten more entertaining, illuminating, and fascinating years! 

HANK: Yes, yes, ten years at least! And tiaras for everyone.

RHYS BOWEN: Jenn, yes, we all need tiaras! I was the first geographically different person to join the Reds, I'm not sure how many years ago. Almost ten, surely. Until then they had all been clustered in the North East and I think I was invited as a token westerner! My one disadvantage being that I could never comment until three hours after everyone else. But what a joy it has been, chatting with these amazing women every day. I never had sisters and this feels like a group of sisters (without the bitchiness and petty jealousies and 'mom always liked you best!) I
I think we have every right to be proud. Not only have we survived when we have watched other blogs come and go, but we have thrived. Our audience has grown. We have become a respected PR source for publishers who beg us to have their writers as guests. And we have built up an amazing and loyal community. So I'm raising my virtual glass. Here's to the next ten years, Reds community!

HANK: Yes, yes, yes, Reds. Cheers!  (Julia is on family business, and will be back soon.)

 So--five big things, well, six:

1. We're giving away books! EIGHT winners will be chosen at random--and each person will get a book from a Red!

2.  We need your input and help--what works about Jungle Red? Why are you here? Do you love guests, chats, writing life, reading life, everyday life, all of the above?  Do you read on a phone or a desktop or laptop? Does it look okay? DO you check in every day?

3. Check in! We'd love to know who . you are and where--time for lurkers to say hi. We'd love to meet you! 

4. Thank you thank you thank you thank you--each and every one of you is a treasure. We are incredibly grateful, and we are planing the huge party. Somehow. Somewhere. (what will you bring?)

5. And don't forget--comment to enter your name for a Reds book. 


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Have You Fallen in (Literary) Love This Summer?

Michael with Lucy

Several weeks ago, Michael Connelly was coming to our neck of the woods and speaking at a lunch sponsored by RJ Julia booksellers. My good friend and writing buddy, Angelo, suggested that several of us attend. I've heard Michael before and long been a fan of his books and characters, especially Harry Bosch. And what's better than lunch with friends while hearing an admired writer talk? So of course I said yes!

He was completely charming and we all bought books and stood in line to have them signed. Mine was signed for John's birthday, but I didn't think he'd mind if I read it first. (Especially if he didn't know, LOL.) The Late Show introduces a new character, a female cop who works the night shift at the LAPD. I didn't expect to get swept into her life and her story so quickly, but I loved it. 

And Lord knows, with the world in a scary shambles lately, one of the things that really helps get my mind off what I can't control is good books. Now I am finishing up Rhys's new Royal Spyness mystery – Georgie is the perfect antidote for anxiety. If you haven't started this series, you have a giant treat ahead of you. I have Joshilyn Jackson's new book lined up next. But after that…You know I always get a little desperate that the next read won't be quite as good…

So have you fallen in literary love this summer?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mystery of Decluttering...Recipes @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTEOver the past 4 to 6 weeks, I've been involved in what one might call "productive procrastination." This means using the inspiration about cleaning stuff out of my house (that I found here) to clean stuff out of my house. This most often happens when I am stalled on my writing. (Why is it that cleaning is so appealing when a person is hammering out a first draft?

We've made multiple trips to the clothing donation box, more trips to the church where they are collecting tchotchkes for the white elephant booth at the fair, and a family visit to our attic. (And it turns out that Andrew is a master thrower-outer, Molly and Jeff, not so much.) But I screeched to a halt when I looked at this drawer:

The picture doesn't show you that the drawer is so full, it's very hard to open or close. 

 This accordion file used to be where I kept the recipes that I would either try or had tried and liked enough to try again. At least it's minimally organized:

Whereas this box has no organization other than the newest recipes dropped on top: (And I am still adding by the way...)

And I certainly don't want to dump the whole drawer, because I'd hate to lose precious pieces of the past like this recipe in my father's handwriting:

And this one from my grandmother (his mother) in 1969:

But the truth is, I also have a ton of cookbooks. And many, many issues of Bon App├ętit, which I am too embarrassed to show you and thank goodness I had the sense to discontinue. And when I want to try something new, I most often either look at my Pinterest board for food, or I Google the ingredients. And I store recipes I've made and liked on Mystery Lovers Kitchen, like this fabulous chocolate cake or this copycat crockpot pasta fagioli.! Do you have a drawer jammed full of recipes? What will you do with them?