Friday, May 31, 2019

The Books of the Decade By Leslie Budewitz

Jenn McKinlay: A few years ago at Left Coast Crime in Portland, OR, I was lucky enough to have lunch with fellow cozy mystery author Leslie Budewitz, and I discovered she's just as interesting to talk to as her books are to read. Here's Leslie to talk about what she's pondering lately - just before her latest mystery Chai Another Day comes out on June 11th!

Leslie Budewitz 

Leslie Budewitz: One of my favorite book blogs is Book Bound with Barbaraby Barbara Theroux, a former librarian and bookseller who founded and ran one of my favorite indie booksellers, Fact & Fiction, in Missoula. (Happily, it carries on without her.)

Last month, she started a series of posts linked to Lit Hub’s A Century of Reading feature, 
identifying 10 books that have identified each decade of the last hundred years, plus. (The link takes you to the 2010s; scroll down a few paragraphs for the links to earlier decades.) 

Reading that led me to this list of New York Times fiction bestsellers, by year. 

And it seemed rather wonderful that the most popular book during the first third of the year I was born happens to have been Doctor Zhivago, one of my favorite novels AND movies. (Ahem; no, I’m not that old; it was published in English a few years after its first publication in Italy.)

I know what you’re thinking: The movie is never as good as the book. Or at least, that’s what we say when we’ve read the book first. I’m not so sure we’d all agree if we’d seen the movie first, because movies create such strong visuals. But I can’t think of a book and movie combo where I’ve seen the movie first. (Scratching my head—there must be one.)

I read Zhivago in Russian Lit class in college in about 1980. The movie happened to be playing downtown in a huge – HUGE – theater called, if I remember right, Cinemax, in its most max theater. It could have seated 600 or more.

There were four of us. 

It’s a long movie, with an intermission, which is weird when there are only four people in the theater. The potty break doesn’t take long, and there were no lines for the popcorn or Junior Mints. 

It is, of course, terribly miscast. At least if you recall the first line: “Yuri Zhivago was not a handsome man.

I jest—you know that, right? 

We love the movie and watch it every year or two, but only in winter, alternating with Laurence of Arabia (1962), Sharif’s first English-language film. I fondly recall my late mother curling up on the couch with me to watch it on a visit. And in January when the ice and snow build up around our house, either Mr. Right or I can be counted on to shout “Fa REE kee noh!” as if we were seeking refuge in an ice-bound country house, with the Red Army on our heels. 

But this is about books. And while I think Dr. Zhivago is a great movie, so well excised from the book, the book still holds my heart. The scope is huge, so much bigger even than the movie, if you can imagine. It captured decades of change, but in the grand way that the Russian novelists did so well. It was Boris Pasternak’s crowning glory, and it caused him serious trouble in Russia, especially when he was awarded the Nobel Prize. 

Turns out I’ve actually read most of the books on both these lists for the 1950s and 60s. Missed Portnoy’s Complaint, though I doubt I’ll remedy that. (I do remember the woman next door asking my then 20-something brother to return it to the library for her—she didn’t want her husband to know she’d read it.) The lists are, well, serious books. And you’ve got to be in the right mood, right? (Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t.) 

What about you, reader friends? Is there a popular book from your younger years that you still adore? Something on these lists that you missed but went back to read? How did that go? A book that when the title comes up in party talk, you try to keep your eyes from glazing over and decide you really must have another deviled egg? (Bad example—who doesn’t always want another deviled egg?)

Available June 11th

Leslie Budewitz blends her passion for food, great mysteries, and the Northwest in two cozy mystery series. Chai Another Day,  her fourth Spice Shop Mystery, set in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, will be published on June 11. Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries, set in Jewel Bay, Montana, won the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She also won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction. “All God’s Sparrows,” her first historical fiction, won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives and cooks in NW Montana. 

Find her online at and on Facebook at More about Chai Another Day,  including an excerpt here:

When Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece overhears an argument in an antique shop, she finds herself drawn into a murder that could implicate an old enemy, or ensnare a new friend. 

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Obituary Enthusiasts by Jill Orr (with a giveaway)!

JENN McKINLAY: Recently, I was on a panel at the Poisoned Pen for their annual Cozy Con. It was the absolute best panel I've ever been on - granted, there was wine involved - but, truly, this group of women was smart, witty, and delightful. 
Authors: Paige Shelton, Jenn McKinlay, Jill Orr, Jessica Elliott, and Jane Willan
Naturally, I gave them all a standing invite to come and visit Jungle Red Writers whenever they wanted, and I'm thrilled that Jill Orr, who has a new book coming out, took me up on the invite. Jill is a treat and her series, which I just started reading is fabulous. But here's Jill to tell you more about it!

Jill Orr
JILL ORR: When people hear that I write a series about a character who is obsessed with obituaries, they usually have a few questions. Why obits? Isn’t that kind of morbid? Are you preoccupied with death? To which I answer, why not, no, and definitely not! When I talk to book clubs, there is almost always someone in the room who says, “Oh yeah, my mom/dad/grandma/aunt/uncle/cousin reads the obits every day.” If I’m really lucky, there’ll be a person in the group who keeps an obit scrapbook.

That is the little-known secret about obituaries. They, like other forms of writing, have their own rabid fan base. In her 2006 book, The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of the Obituaries, Marilyn Johnson refers to these folks as “obituary enthusiasts,” a term that I love as much for its specificity as its contrarian spirit. In fact, it was this term that served as the inspiration for my main character, Riley Ellison, who is obsessed with reading obituaries and (of course) gets drawn into solving murders through the obit page.  

In creating Riley, I looked to Johnson’s book for insight into what a real-life obituary enthusiast might be like. My first thought was that she’d be a dark, brooding, moody character who dressed in black and thought about THE END all the time. But as I did research on the real people who love obits, my perception began to change. I discovered that obituary enthusiasts are actually some of the most optimistic, hopeful, and inquisitive people in the whole world! Who knew?

Margalit Fox, famed obituary writer for The New York Times, pinpoints why this is so, “…in a news obituary of 800 or a thousand words, there might be one or two sentences about the death and the other 98 percent of this remarkable narrative is every inch about the life.” So there it is: obituaries are about life, not death. We read them in search of those tiny details that illuminate a life well-lived, so that we might learn from/be inspired by/be cautioned by those people who’ve come before us—or least those who have left before us. 

In the first book in my series, Riley has a habit of writing her own obituary inside her head when she gets into a sticky situation. Like when she agrees to ride a roller coaster on a first-date even though she’s deathly afraid of heights. Or when she’s being held at gun point by a homicidal maniacAnd while these moments are meant to inject humor (in one of these internal obits she “dies” of humiliation), they are also there to show how Riley uses the construct of the obituary as a sort of life-measuring-stick. If I died right now, what would someone write about me? Am I living an obit-worthy life?

Benjamin Franklin famously joked that he would wake up every day at nine and grab for the obituary page. If his name wasn’t on it, he’d get up. That’s certainly one way in which obituaries can be life-affirming! But more than that, a well-written obituary inspires, distills, and curates the entirety of a person’s existence and presents it to us for evaluation— the good, the bad, and the ugly. (At least news obits do that. Death notices sent in by family often edit out “the bad” and “the ugly.”) But the cool part is that every reader will take away something different. It’s almost like there’s a kind of alchemy that takes place between reader and subject: the experience of your life + the experience of that person’s life = a unique and slightly altered view about the importance of what’s left behind when the music stops. After all, that’s the big question isn’t it? Maybe that’s why so many people read the obits. Maybe at the core of every obituary there is a tiny clue to help us solve the greatest mystery of all time: What in the world are we doing here, anyway?

How about you Reds and Readers? Are there any obit readers out there? If so, I’d love to know why you read them! Leave a comment below and be entered in a random drawing to receive a copy of The Good Byline!  

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Art of the Reveal, plus Giveaway by Kate Carlisle

JENN McKINLAY: I am absolutely delighted to have one of my very dearest friends and writing pals joining us today to talk about the art of the reveal when writing a series. Take it away, Kate!

Kate Carlisle is the New York Timesbestselling author of two ongoing series: the Bibliophile Mysteries featuring San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright, whose rare book restoration skills uncover old secrets, treachery and murder; and the Fixer-Upper Mysteries (as seen on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries), featuring Shannon Hammer, a home contractor who discovers not only skeletons in her neighbors' closets, but murder victims, too.

KATE CARLISLE: Writing a long-running mystery series is a delicate balance. Each mystery must be self-contained, so that a new reader can jump in with any book and enjoy the story. On the other hand, to satisfy longtime readers I must also show change and progression in the characters and their relationships.

And the change must be something that carries through into subsequent books. I can't just go on as though nothing happened. Lessons learned must not be unlearned. Without progress, the books become episodic, and the story world feels flat.

I'll confess, I gamed the system when I started the Bibliophile Mystery series. I set up the series with a large cast of characters deliberately so that we could learn something new about different characters in each book. Bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright comes from a large, quirky family—her parents are Grateful Dead superfans (aka Deadheads) who conceived Brooklyn and her five siblings while following the band on tour; she was raised on a commune that's still thriving; and she lives in a San Francisco condo building with several very interesting neighbors. (**cough**lesbian chainsaw artists**cough**) Not to mention her love interest, British security expert Derek Stone, and his equally large and quirky family across the pond.

In each book, readers discover new aspects about Brooklyn and that book's featured secondary character. It's fun and exciting, and when the information comes up later in the series, longtime readers feel like insiders. More than that, they feel like the characters are people they know. Friends, even, and they look forward to seeing them again in the next book.

I think of this as the Art of the Reveal. It's a literary fan dance. Show a little more in each book. Let readers put the pieces together in their mind.

In The Book Supremacy, I wanted to, at long last, delve deeper into Derek's mysterious background with MI6. While on honeymoon in Paris, Derek runs into one of his old friends from his spy days (though he insists he was never a spy). A coincidence? Or did the man track Derek down on purpose? When, just days later, Derek's old friend turns up dead, he and Brooklyn will have to dig into the cases the two men worked on together to find the killer before he strikes again.

In the latest in this New York Times bestselling series, San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright investigates a mysterious spy novel linked to a string of murders...

Newlyweds Brooklyn and Derek are enjoying the final days of their honeymoon in Paris. As they're browsing the book stalls along the Seine, Brooklyn finds the perfect gift for Derek, a first edition James Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me. When they bump into Ned, an old friend from Derek’s spy days, Brooklyn shows him her latest treasure.

Once they're back home in San Francisco, they visit a spy shop Ned mentioned. The owner begs them to let him display the book Brooklyn found in Paris as part of the shop's first anniversary celebration. Before they agree, Derek makes sure the security is up to snuff—turns out, the unassuming book is worth a great deal more than sentimental value.


Soon after, Derek is dismayed when he receives a mysterious letter from Paris announcing Ned’s death. Then late one night, someone is killed inside the spy shop. Are the murders connected to Brooklyn's rare, pricey book? Is there something even more sinister afoot? Brooklyn and the spy who loves her will have to delve into the darkest parts of Derek's past to unmask an enemy who's been waiting for the chance to destroy everything they hold dear.

GIVEAWAY: I try very hard to make my book worlds feel genuine, and revealing new information about different characters is one of the main ways I do that. It's like when you live in a neighborhood for a long time, and you learn something new about the people next door. Tell me something you learned about one of your neighbors that surprised you, something that you wouldn't have expected when you first moved in. I have a Bibliophile Mystery magnifier for one lucky commenter!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

How Do I Choose What to Read Next? by Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay: You would think as a recovering librarian that deciding what to read next after finishing a book would be a no brainer for me. I mean reader's advisory is my bag, yo! 

Yeah, no. When it comes to choosing reads for myself, I spend an inordinate amount of time picking up books, reading the back cover, reading the first page, checking the reviews (not the 1 stars or the 5 stars, only the 3 stars), and hemming and hawing, and rejecting and retrieving, and so on and so forth. It's exhausting. You'd think I was planning to marry the book with all of the thought I put into selection...because reading time is precious!

If I'm lucky and discover a new author whose wordsmithing I fall in love with, I will read the first book and then plow through their entire backlist. Which is what I did with Nora Roberts's In Death series when I came late to the party on that one and again with C.S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr series after I was fortunate enough to sign with her at the Poisoned Pen. (Sebastian is my fictional boyfriend, but I digress...)
Reading Quirks

The other evening, I finished a stand alone suspense novel and was left flailing. I had read all of the author's other books, so now it was time to pick my next read. Per usual, I waffled over my TBR pile. One book wasn't the right season, it needed to be winter to read it. Another one had some concerning reviews. The third one just didn't grab me when I read the cover blurb. The fourth had an improbable opening that I just couldn't get past. 

I turned to the Internet for help, because as we all know there is a Youtube video for everything. Yes, even picking your next book. This advice is from the Youtube Channel: Little Book Owl.

I went with one of her suggestions - to close your eyes and point - and picked up a book that I had started several months ago but hadn't followed through with because another book lured me away. Fortunately, the characters had stuck with me and now I discovered I wanted to know what happened, so I went back in. I'm glad I did. The book is a women's fiction On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins and it's a nice step away from the suspense book I'd just read.

So, I solved my dilemma this week, but I am only forty pages from being back in the swamp of indecision...again.

Oh, and in case, you're looking for one of the Reds, might I suggest...SUMMER READING BARGAIN!  
$1.99 YOU'LL NEVER KNOW, DEAR by Hallie Ephron e-book!
- Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist
- “Satisfyingly creepy.” – Library Journal
- “Engrossing and fast-paced.” – San Francisco Review of Books
Buy it on Amazon

All right, Reds and Readers, help me out, how do you choose your next book to read?

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day Parades

JENN McKINLAY: First, let's take a moment to think of those who lost their lives in service to our country. I do not believe there is any greater sacrifice a person, or their loved ones, can make than
to die defending the freedoms that we Americans hold dear in our hearts. Bless them, each and every one.

Now as a kid the greater meaning of Memorial Day was lost on me. Primarily because whenever Memorial Day came around, there was a parade to be marched in. I started as a baton twirler. That
didn't last very long. A few clonks on the head with the metal baton and not even the sparkly unitard could lure me back into the fold. 

Then, it was marching with the girl scouts, the bicentennial bicycle brigade, and riding on the library float. In high school, I was in marching band so every Memorial Day was parade day. I have so many fond memories of being in the parades that to this day I still love them! Weirdo, I know.

Parada del Sol - AZ

In Scottsdale, it's a tad hot for Memorial Day parades, so in February we have the Parada del Sol, the largest horse centric parade in the country, and we attend every year and cheer on all of the war veterans who ride in antique cars or on the back of flatbed trucks. Our boys have marched with the middle school band and the high school band every year for the past six years. It's always a special moment. I love it. Hub not so much (because people) but he's a good sport (mostly) about it.

What about you, Reds? Do you love a parade?

HALLIE EPHRON: I love parades but I hate crowds. You see the problem.

Our town has a Memorial Day parade which my older daughter dreaded because, as flute player in her high school band, she was expected to march to the cemetery and play at the service. I'm afraid the meaning of the event was lost on her as well, especially when it rained. But our beautiful local cemetery (established in 1672) blooms with Veteran's flags on Memorial Day, and on the Boston Common thousands of flags are planted on a hillside.  It makes me stop and reflect and, yes, give thanks.

Remember the movie Easter Parade? I remember being so disappointed when I moved to NYC and could actually go to Fifth Avenue on Easter, come to find out that the parade was just a lot of people swanning about in funny hats. Not sure what I was expecting. Maybe Judy Garland swinging down from the top of Rockefeller Center.

RHYS BOWEN: I'm a sucker for parades, for pomp and circumstance in general. My heart quickens at the sound of an approaching marching band. Tears trickle down my cheeks when the graduates march in to the Elgar piece that we know in England as Land of Hope and Glory. But small town parades are my favorite. When we lived in Corte Madera, in Marin County they had a 4th of July parade, decorated bicycles, the mayor in an open topped car, very low key, but everyone knew everyoneI  and waved as they went past. My daughter has the same sort of thing in Sonoma.. I think that deep in the American pysche there is a longing for pagentry and lost royalty.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: You'll think I'm silly, but parades make me cry. The veterans, all proud and in their uniforms. The marching bands, with the teenagers playing earnestly, and the cacophonous brass, the weird arrangements of popular music morphed into being unidentifiable. I used to be in a band, and I know how hard iti s to march and play at the same time. (I was a majorette, too, briefly, an utter and absolute failure, who the band director assigned to be in the middle of the back row so no one could tell how terrible I was. But I loved the boots.)  I grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, and EVERYONE got to march in the Fourth of July parade, seemed like there were more people on the street than in on the sidewalk--brigades of goofy dogs, and the quilting ladies, and the kids with sheep, and there was a group  who marched with shopping carts. And endless ponies, and the 4-h exhibitors. And kids pulling little red  wagons with whatever in them, usually littler kids.  Beauty queens in convertibles, either too hot in the broiling heat or too cold but determined not to cover up their dresses and sashes. And flags, millions of flags.
I still makes me cry. The participation, and the community, and the proud timelessness of it.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Jenn, still giggling over you getting conked in the head with the metal baton... Those things hurt! I had one as a kid, although I was never coordinated enough to march in anything. Didn't play in band, either, which I now really regret. But I LOVE parades, especially when there are horses! And I love high school bands. Those make me teary. However, I don't like standing out in the heat and the sun. But, luckily, our Memorial Day parade should start at my daughter's house and end up passing ours, so hopefully I'll get to stand in the shade--or even take out a folding chair--and watch it coming and going!

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm lucky to live in two towns that love parades--Madison and Key West. Along with other vets, John will be marching in the parade on Monday, which is a smaller, more somber affair with stops to memorialize local heroes. On the fourth of July, all stops are pulled out--small town fun at its best! In Key West, everything is an excuse for a parade and we love them all...

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Small town parades are, without a doubt, the best. For years we've been going to the local Saco/Biddeford Memorial Day Parade (the two towns are "sister cities" divided by the Saco River, whose mills used to provide a living for everyone in the area.) The Saco Middle School Band will march, as will the Biddeford Tigers. The American Legion is out in full force, and local organizations and often a politician or two - marching in a parade seems the very definition of retail politics to me! Antique cars, an antique fire truck, and an antique police car, followed by a real squad car to close out the parade.

Like the rest of you, I'm a watering can when I see Old Glory and the proud old (and not-so-old, these days) veterans marching by. Ross, a vet himself, would always brace and uncover, with his hand over his heart. Thinking about this years' parade without him and with the Sailor on duty in the Persian Gulf - ugh, I get weepy just thinking about it. I'll have to find a red, white and blue handkerchief to bring with me.

All right, Readers, how about you? Are you a parade person or no?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Mock Grilled Ribs for Memorial Day

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: As promised, a Memorial Day recipe that fulfills my two requirements: it has to be something guests will expect to see at a cookout, but NOT have to go on a grill, because I am a woman and I don't know how to grill. There, I said it. I married Ross so I would never have to know anything about wine or about BBQ, and it's too late for me to learn no, especially when I have A) the wine guy at RSVP Beverages to tell me what's good and B) recipes like this.

These mock-grilled ribs are not my recipe, but come courtesy of my friend Celia Wakefield, who besides being a delightful commentor on Jungle Reds, was also a professional  caterer. Many of her meals which I've had the good fortune to share are wonders like this - three or four ingredients, a little magic, and they come out looking and tasting like... well, like you had a pro catering for you! Take it away, Celia!

Here is a quick prep recipe which works well with a gathering when you want to be with the party, not in the kitchen.

2#+ rack of St. Louis spareribs -this will give 14# ribs so allow 3 ribs per person at least.

Spice mix:
Buy a good commercial one like Indian Curry Seasoning from Frontier Coop*, or make your own with:
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tbsp cardamom
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp garlic powder NOT salt
1 tbsp chili (Trader Jo makes a great one called TJ Chili Lime seasoning blend)
Measure out and mix together. 

Heat oven to 325 degrees F

Use a baking sheet large enough to lay the ribs down in a single layer.

Tear a piece of heavy duty foil to enclose the ribs with extra to fold over to make a heat proof envelope.

Lay the ribs curved side up in the center of the foil, sprinkle generously with spices.

Turn over and sprinkle the other side. This side is ribs curving up.

Wrap tightly and put in the oven for 1.5 hours dependent on the meatiness of the ribs. More meat, longer cooking. 

Remove and unwrap carefully as the steam can burn!

Turn ribs over and put either under the grill or on the barbecue for a crisper finish.

*  If you can find a smoked mixed spice grab it as it will be wonderful and you can add additional spices to ‘spice’ up the flavor.

Serve by separating the ribs and serving with a rice pilaf or fries or a good baguette. 

JULIA: Do you have any fail-proof cookout recipes you'd like to share, dear readers? And please congratulate Celia, who's celebrating her 50th anniversary with her delightful husband Victor this week!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Fast Five for the Start of Summer

It's Memorial Day Weekend! We'll have some recipes that straddle the line between BBQ and a dinner party tomorrow, and on Monday, we'll reminisce about the Memorial Day parades we have known and loved. But we're all running around like mad today, so it's going to be a Fast Five Questions about the start of summer!

1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout?  My mom's potato salad recipe. Simple, cheap, and everybody loves it.

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season?  Heck, no. My feet look like they've just been released from a Siberian gulag. I desperately need a pedi.

3. What's your summer jam? Fishin' in the Dark by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

4. Are you going swimming, and where? I will, with God's help. (That's a joke for the Episcopalians out there.) If the temperatures manage to reach something resembling summer, I'll be dunking in Lake Arrowhead this weekend, otherwise, you can catch me swimming in the Saco River. In July, when it warms up.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer. A cardigan! Because you never know when it's going to get chilly here in Maine.


 1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout?   Chilled Prosecco. Fresh fruit--blueberries, raspberries, peaches.  Peach pie!

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season?   Yes! I just got turquoise. I feel so radical.

3. What's your summer jam?  Basia--there's a song called ..ah, I will look it up. Time and Tide, I think. Girl from Ipanema.  Beach Boys!

4. Are you going swimming, and where?  Truro. But do I have to go into the water? We love to float in our back yard pool!  We get big puffy pool floats and books, and lemonade, and float. looking up at the blue blue sky and up through the giant sugar maples. It is glorious and inspirational and very very Zen.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer.        Sunscreen. A hat.  Sunglasses. (And I swoon at the fragrance of Coppertone and Bain de Soleil!

1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout? Sesame noodles with mushrooms, and cucumbers. There's a Mark Bittman recipe for it that ran in the NY Times.

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season? I just bought myself sandals that cover my toes so I can put off addressing this very issue.

3. What's your summer jam? In the Summertime, when the weather is hot...

4. Are you going swimming, and where? I'll fully intend to and then usually never actually take the plunge. Peaks Island in Maine where the water is NOT hot.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer. Vodka and club soda and cranberry juice and lime. 


 1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout? Bottles of chilled rose and Sauvignon Blanc. Oooh, and my watermelon and feta salad.

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season? You betcha. This is Texas. I've been in sandals for two months. My toenails are a happy coral.

3. What's your summer jam? Roundabout, by Yes. Always makes me want to drive with the windows down and the sunroof open.

4. Are you going swimming, and where? Sure. If someone who has a pool invites me.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer. Mosquito repellent!


Jenn McKinlay:
 1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout? -- Deviled Eggs!!! Always.

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season? -- Yes, mostly because I just don't care (my, god, I love being over 50).

3. What's your summer jam? -- Lounging on the hammock on the porch of our summer house in Nova Scotia while reading and listening to the Grateful Dead. Bliss.

4. Are you going swimming, and where? -- Yes, in my pool in AZ when it's over 100 or in the Bay of Fundy, usually because I tipped my kayak over and have no choice.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer.  -- Sunscreen.

 1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout? Jenn got to the eggs before I did, but that's what I'm bringing too!

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season? Yes, pale pink toes:)

3. What's your summer jam? Under the Boardwalk (people walking above...)

4. Are you going swimming, and where? John's family reunion is in Cape Cod. Really hoping it's warm enough to swim in July--the kids will all be going in!

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer.

1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout? How come everybody has already brought the deviled eggs? That's what we bring. Okay, secret recipe baked beans.

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season? Not exactly. Pedicure needed before I take off for Europe

3. What's your summer jam?  Anything Beach Boys. Barbara Ann.

4. Are you going swimming, and where? I swim year round at my health club and in the pool in Arizona and I'm seriously miffed that I won't have much chance to swim as we criss-cross Europe. Maybe I'll brave the ocean in Cornwall. But I'm a wimp. Brrrr.

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer.: My bathing suit.

JULIA: What is Rhys's secret recipe for baked beans? Will anyone invite Debs to their pool? How many times will Jenn tip her kayak in the Bay of Fundy? Stay tuned for the answer to these and more questions as summer unfolds! Meanwhile, dear readers, you can copy and paste the questions, below, and add your Fast Five to the comments!

1. What's your fav dish to bring to a cookout?

2. Are your feet ready for sandal season?

3. What's your summer jam?

4. Are you going swimming, and where?

5. Name one thing you always have at the ready in summer.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Our Brag Book

BREAKING NEWS!  HAPPY SUMMER READING!   >TRUST ME by Red Hank Phillippi Ryan is now (briefly) $2.99! "A knockout" "Mesmerizing" "Riveting psychological suspense" "Dazzling" -and now: "on sale!"  Here's the link:


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We don't usually flog our own book info too hard here at JRW, but we we've been sharing exciting developments between ourselves, and Lucy said - quite insightfully! - that we should do a blog post where we share our good news and interesting tidbits with you.  

My first piece of news is that I'm the Guest of Honor at the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda next year! I'm very excited because A) my career literally began at Malice, when I won the St. Martin's Press/ Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Award in 2001 and B) the Toastmaster will be my dear friend Jeff Cohen (aka E.J. Copperman.) We're going to have a blast and I hope you'll come, too.

You'll have the chance to see me at several other venues from now through the fall, as I begin to pick up the pace of appearances again. I'm teaching and speaking at Maine Crime Wave in Portland at the end of this month, I'll be appearing at Crime Bake and Bouchercon (where two other Reds will be making special appearances, see below...), and I'm part of the fun and intimate Murder by the Book in Bar Harbor in mid-October.

But the best news of all? I have a publication date! HID FROM OUR EYES will be released April 7, 2020! I know it seems like a long time from now, but since I'm going to start writing Clare & Russ number 10 in June, I'm hoping it gives me a chance to finally finish one book before the release of another

LUCY BURDETTE: I'm finishing up the first push of spreading the word after publication of Key West food critic #9, A DEADLY FEAST! Madly, madly writing THE KEY LIME CRIME. Meanwhile, I got so tickled when I saw A DEADLY FEAST in Woman's World best books of the week, placed right next to Janet Evanovich:

"Filled with lighthearted humor and quirky characters, this fun whodunit begins when Key West food critic Hayley Snow gets a phone call from her friend Analise, who says a customer collapsed dead during one of their seafood tasting tours." Woman’s World Magazine

HALLIE EPHRON: Yay, Lucy! WOMAN'S WORLD! And featured alongside that nobody, Janet Evanovich!!
My good news is a starred review from Publisher's Weekly for my August book, CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. I'm over the moon, and so is my publisher. 
“This outstanding standalone from bestseller Ephron (You’ll Never Know, Dear) may be the first domestic thriller to weave in Marie Kondo’s decluttering theory about discarding things that don’t spark joy. … Appealing characters and some suspenseful detective work help elevate this in-depth look at people’s emotional attachment to things. After being a finalist five times, Ephron may finally win the Mary Higgins Clark Award for this one.”

RHYS BOWEN: I've had several pieces of good news recently. My Lake Union books have sold over a million copies in the past two years. This means I get my portrait hung on the wall of Amazon
HQ. How cool is that? And the latest book, THE VICTORY GARDEN, has just passed 100,000 copies. Who'd have thought it when my first Constable Evans novel had a print run of 2500. Also my book, THE TUSCAN CHILD, has just been nominated for a Fresh Fiction award. I've no idea what that is, but it has to be good. And my next Royal Spyness book , LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE CHEETAHS, comes out in August. Details of my crazy tour are on my website.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Whoa. all that great news! You have to admit, it's amazing. Congratulations, dear pals.
Let's see--I'm the American Guest of Honor at Bouchercon! And I am still floating over that incredible honor. I'm paired with Lifetime Achiever James Patterson, who I get to interview, how cool is that? (And I'll let Debs tell her own Bouchercon news.) . THE MURDER LIST  comes out August 20--and an early reader just tweeted: "All right! If John Grisham and LIsa Scottoline had a book baby, this is it! And I loved the ending!"  Yay. 

 THE MURDER LIST was also named a Most Anticipated Book of Summer 2019 by Crime Reads--so that's amazing, too. (My book tour will soon be on my website--whoa.) And the mass market paperback of TRUST ME is getting an astonishing print run. I cannot even believe it. So. Like I said. Yay.

Forge Books signed me to two more standalone books for 2020 and 2021--YAY! (And kind of hard to believe.)   I'm working on THE FIRST TO LIE right now. 

JENN McKINLAY: Our collective cup runneth over. Along with Rhys, but in a separate category, my latest library lover's mystery HITTING THE BOOKS has been nominated for best cozy by FRESH FICTION! If you want to vote for us, go here!   

Also, I recently sold THE GAP YEAR my very first women's fiction book to Penguin Random House in a six figure deal with the publication date slated for July 2020. I am crazy excited for this book to come out!


DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm so excited that Kincaid/James #18, A BITTER FEAST,  will be out on October 8th, 2019! I'll be doing a national tour--although I have no idea where yet--and lots of other fun stuff. The ARCs have now gone out to reviewers, so the next couple of months will be nerve-wracking, as we can all attest.

Meanwhile, I'm beginning the next book, Duncan and Gemma #19. I even have a title! Hoping to write this one a little faster, folks!

Oh, and I'm also a guest of honor at Bouchercon, along with Hank! It's in Dallas, my home town, and I think it's going to be fabulous conference. I love my city and can't wait to see lots of you there!

JULIA: Joy and riches abound. A reminder to our dear readers - the best way you can support the authors you love is to ask your local library to stock their books or to pre-order the books for yourself! Our publishers love pre-orders. Love them.

Okay, dear readers, now it's your turn to brag. What amazing things are going on with you and yours?