Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Surprises! Thoughts for the New Year.

RHYS BOWEN: I'm the sort of person who loves surprises. I still remember the time my father surprised me with an expensive gift I'd always wanted but never dared to ask for one Christmas. My husband John is very generous but tell him to surprise me for a special occasion and I'll get either nothing or a book on battles of WW2 (yes, he really gave me that one year). He does not think outside the box.

 So as we look back at the year and as every program on TV has its top ten events of the year list I thought I'd ask my Jungle Red sisters for a single happening that surprised them, either pleasantly or not.
 For me, in a year of good things career-wise (like being #1 in Mystery on Amazon for a couple of heady days) the big surprise of the year was seeing my son's proposal to his fiancĂ©e on YouTube while I was on a ship in the Mediterranean. They'd been together for two years so not a complete surprise but it was still a shock to go on Facebook and read that Dominic had changed his status!

 And is there one thing you hope will happen this year--something you're looking forward to or wishing for (or even dreading?). We're all looking forward to Dominic and Meredith's wedding this summer--up on a mountain above Clear Lake CA, and the wedding party all sleeping in yurts afterward. Quite an adventure! I'm also hoping to attend the Warsaw book fair as my books apparently sell well in Poland. Who knew!

 So do share, JRW Sisters--something that surprised you this year and something you wish for in 2014.

HALLIE EPHRON: Yurts? Yikes. 

I confess I don't watch my Amazon numbers, but I hope when I hit it big someone will be watching and let me know. Nothing has topped the birth of our first grandchild. I know, bo-ring. But really, it's just about the best thing I've ever (not actually) done. Second best, getting "There Was an Old Woman" on Sarah Weinman's top 10 list of 2013 crime novels..

Looking forward to getting comments back from my editor and getting the new book exactly the way I want it. And then taking a few weeks off writing bettween books. That I am REALLY looking forward to.

 All to all the Reds and readers I wish a happy, healthy, productive and fun year ahead.

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Happy New Year! Last January, I traveled solo to Edinburgh and Arisaig to research the Special Operation Executive (SOE) spy-training camps for THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT. I never expected that I would absolutely and completely fall in love with Scotland! It was also an incredibly positive experience for me to go on my own — I spend a lot of time in the roles of wife, mother, and daughter-in-law, and it was freeing and eye-opening to spend so much time on my own. And I still can't believe how gorgeous Scotland is — even (perhaps especially?) in winter. I feel privileged to have visited and met so many new friends.

And last year — making the New York Times bestseller list was pretty darned great! And being nominated for an Edgar Award, as well as the Dilys Award, Sue Federer Historical Fiction Award, Macavity Award and then winning the Barry Award. And being asked to join the Jungle Red Writers!

 In 2014? I'd like to keep my sanity doing this wife/mom/novelist/elder-caretaker thing…. And I'm also looking forward to the publication of THE PRIME MINISTER'S SECRET AGENT in the summer of 2014 and writing THE FIRST LADY'S CONFIDANTE.

I wish a happy and healthy New Year to my fellow Reds and fellow readers!

 HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: HAPPY NEW YEAR! What do I wish for? I daren't even say.

 Last year, oh, well of course--standing with Mary Higgins Clark as THE OTHER WOMAN on the MHC award? I still almost burst into tears when I think of it.
 THE WRONG GIRL is on several best of lists, and up for an award already!
 TRUTH BE TOLD is coming. and I am about to type "chapter one" of WHAT YOU SEE. Perfect for New Year's Day, huh?

I still feel like such a newbie author, so every day is filled with joy and panic and possibilities. Hard to imagine what might happen in 2014--honestly? I'm trying not to. One day at a time.

But I do love you all...and wish you every happiness. And oh, good health. Very very very good health.

LUCY BURDETTE: Our trip to Paris and Provence was not a surprise--but it was completely lovely. Maybe it was surprising that I was able to bike 20 miles a day (though my bike and I did spend some time walking up the steep parts!) The food and the scenery and the company (my sister, brother-in-law, and hub) were delightful.

As for next year, I look forward to more writing, and to the publication of MURDER WITH GANACHE, which I think is my favorite book yet. (Though I've probably thought that with every book right before it came out:).

Happy New Year to all my JRW family--I'm so grateful for each of you! xoxo

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Oh, goodness. Surprises. THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS making the USA TODAY list. Discovering Youngest seems to be naturally gifted at archery (I know, who would guess?) Getting to go on a lengthy booktour (I thought it was all internet these days. Thankfully, I was wrong.) Highlights: having a terrific time at the Edgar Awards weekend (and being there when Hank won the Mary Higgins Clark award!) Our family weeks at Pemaquid Point and in DC. The Boy's high school graduation, and moving him into Trinity College for the first time.

What I'm looking forward to in 2014: The Smithie's graduation. The Youngest starts high school (I can't believe it!) Finishing HID FROM OUR EYES. And, through it seems like stealing fate, fall 2014 will mark four years cancer-free for Ross - one year closer to that all-important number five. Oh, and something fun - getting together with you all at Bouchercon and trying yet another wacky Jungle Red game show!

What I'm grateful for? All my friends and sisters here at JRW! Happy New Year!

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Surprises in 2013? THE SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS breaking (excuse the pun) the top ten on the New York Times Hardcover Bestseller list was a whopper!  But I think I was even more surprised by the emotional punch. It was the last day of my tour, with a signing in Dallas. I stood up in front of a room full of people, many of them old friends and friends of my parents, and came unglued. That was a first in all my years of book signings...

I was surprised by my daughter's wedding.  Not surprised that she got married, but that she decided she wanted a wedding, as she'd always said she didn't.  And surprised by how absolutely lovely and perfect it all was. (Not a bit surprised that she was an exquisite bride, or by how much I love my son-in-law!)

And I was surprised by how hard it was to lose my mother.  She was ninety-two and had been ill for years--had, in fact, been on hospice for the last three and a half years, so it certainly wasn't unexpected.  But I don't think anything can prepare you for that sense of loss.

All in all, a very eventful year, made richer and better, in every way, by the support and friendship of my fellow Reds.  Wishing all of you, and all of our readers, a sparkling and brilliant 2014!

RHYS: And I second that. Also how blessed I feel by the support and friendship of my fellow Jungle Reds, and our online friends too! Raising my champagne glass to you all!


  1. Surprise? The totally unexpected honor of being mentioned in Julia’s acknowledgements in “Through the Evil Days” . . . I get all choked up just thinking about it. Getting to go to Deadly Ink and meeting Hank and Rosemary . . . what a wonderful, wonderful treat for me.

    Looking forward to in 2014? Reading lots of Jungle Red writers’ books!

    I hope the new year brings everyone, writers and readers alike, all the best of everything. May your fondest wishes come true and may you find your days filled with the promise and joy of dreams fulfilled.

  2. I'm glad we have a calendar that starts with 1 today. It gives me the illusion of freshness and trying once qualimiupouagain to see that things go right. That I might have some effect on that is possible, so I hope. I hope that some little thing will move the universe just a tiny bit in the right direction this year.

    xoxoxoxo r.

  3. No edit feature. Please ignore my speech to text gone mad.

    Also want to say that I love your good portrait, and I'm glad you posted it. You all are like a different kind of family to me.

  4. Thanks Reine! (and here I thought you'd made up a great new word:)

    And best wished to you too Joan! xp

  5. To keep that childlike ability to be surprised at all is such an accomplishment these days, isn't it?

    My best surprise this past year was my husband's invitation to join him for two weeks on a photo safari in Tanzania. The last time we traveled outside the US, for eight days in France, he had said he did not intend ever again to leave the US. So not only was it special for the place, but also for the fact that we could spend time discovering new places, people and foods together again.

    The other surprise was the revival of my writing career, thanks to a friend who is an editor at Cincinnati Magazine. She was given the job of editing a new publication for them and she asked if I wanted to write a third of the articles on her list. Since then she's given me two other assignments, and I'm really enjoying it. Who knew, at age 62 I'd start all over again?

    You never know what is going to happen, if you keep your options open, I guess. My wish for you all is that 2014 is a year of lovely surprises, much success, health, peace and great joy.

  6. Surprised by an emotional reaction -- seeing Gutenberg's printing press in Mainz, Germany.
    The transformation!
    As a reader and writer, I was thrilled to see this, but it also relates to my journey from Catholicism to a Protestant church.
    The printed word makes it possible.
    I cried.
    Thank you all for your words. Every award is well deserved -- I love all of your books.

  7. Oh, what a great photo! love you all..xooo

    And Denise Ann..that is ..well, I get it.

    YAy, Karen!

    And JOon, me too! Remember my face when you said--I'm Joan Emerson? Loved it!!


  8. Happy New Year to all the Reds and Red readers. I'm looking forward to another year of mystery and murder and other good times with you all.

  9. I signed my husband and me up for a selfguided walking tour in Scotland this past September. I impressed the heck out of myself
    by walking for miles each day. To the point of not being concerned if it was just 6 or 8 miles for the day. And that was an easy day.
    So I'm hoping this newfound confidence lasts and we do another adventure this year.Happy New Year everybody!

  10. 6 or 8 miles was an easy day, Pat D? And Scotland is hilly and has streams crossing the path and rocks. You should be proud of yourself. I used to be able to do that but now my group usually hikes a wimpy 4 or 5 miles (and conveniently finds a latte half way through!)

  11. My best surprise of 2013 was discovering the Jungle Red Writers and meeting you all at Bouchercon. I keep telling everyone that 2013 was one of my best reading years ever, and it is largely due to the amazing writing of this group. Although I planned to attend Bouchercon, my wildest imagination did not prepare me for how wonderful it was. Authors are indeed my rock stars, and it was a gathering of the finest rock stars in the mystery business. I will add Elly Griffiths (Domenica de Rosa) and Jen J. Danna as two other authors I met at Bouchercon and bonded with as if we had known each other for years. Reading is such a bridge to finding soulmates.

    Hallie, there is nothing boring about your first grandchild. The surprises I constantly receive from my four-year-old granddaughter are the stuff of magical living.

    Susan, I have a huge Scottish fetish, and I am trying to plan a trip there in the next couple of years. I have a couple of Scottish friends online that just melt me with their use of "hen" when they talk to me. I think kilts should be required wear at any formal event. And, I may have to go read some Robbie Burns after this post.

    Happy New Year to all here, and may 2014 bring love and laughter in many forms.

  12. I'm just glad to see the end of 2013. It was NOT one of my best years.

    But there were good surprises-- friendships developed on line! And I love this blog, which gently reminds me that I should be writing. Time's a fleeting (I have a BIG birthday coming up) and this is a pleasant company of the literarily-inclined.

  13. Hank! Oh nooo... but you are too funny. My speech to text went crazy yesterday. I might have coughed or something. Poor Speechie. He tries so hard but now and then comes up with very creative writing. Oops... Shhhhh... Must be careful not to annoy Speechie. He says naughty words even I never use.

    Yay Karen!!!

    I've been rooting for the wrong team today. Turns out the guys in the red shirts are not The Badgers. They are South Carolina. Not Steve's team. I will have to make another maple walnut pie to get out of the doghouse.

    Back to the kitchen with me! Someone keep an eye on Speechie while I see if I can prove I'm not a robot.

  14. Denise—I know! I had that feeling that is indescribable on seeing the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare's First Folio... Tears. Truly.

  15. See? That was for Denise Ann! Speechie gone mad again.

    Roberta and Hank... Just figured out that crazy word Speechie reinvented was supposed to be—again—not qualimiupouagain!

  16. Happy New Year to all the wonderful Jungle Red Writers. Thanks for being such an inspiration. My big surprise for 2013 was a three-book contract with Random House's new Alibi digital press dedicated to mysteries. My first book, "The Fixer" comes out February 4th. So, as the new year starts, I'm hoping for even more surprises...particularly hearing from folks who'll read my book. Again, happy new year!

  17. Would be better otherwise? Or should it continue like this?