Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Rhys returning to Roots

RHYS BOWEN : I've just started on my 14th book in the Royal Spyness series. Finally I'm able to set a book in Cornwall. I've been wanting to for ages as I spend part of every summer there and it is a part of England that has great childhood memories too. John's sister married into one of the old Cornish families. His cousin has the title and stately home. Tony inherited the manor house (which isn't too shabby either) so every summer I play at being lady of the manor.

I'm finally putting all of this into a book. The adorable Cornish people who call everyone 'my lovey'. Cornish pasties. Clotted cream. Smugglers. So much good stuff for Georgie to experience.  And as well as this I am making the book a homage to Daphne Du Maurier's REBECCA.  I've always adored that book--the great brooding atmosphere, the clever twists that punch the reader in the gut.
And having decided to do this, guess what? I learn that Netflix is going to be doing a Rebecca series. Perfect timing!  I've called it THE LAST MRS. SUMMERS.

Of course, being a Royal Spyness book, mine won't be all dark and brooding, but I'm hoping for some good twists of my own. Here is a snippet of a scene near the beginning.

“This can’t be right,” Belinda said. “I don’t remember this at all.” She slowed the car to a crawl. “Oh, look. An answer to prayers, darling. There’s someone to ask. Be an angel and find out, will you?”,
I tied a scarf around my head and stepped out into the full force of the gale. A man was leaning on a gate, watching us.  He didn’t seem to mind getting wet at all. I went over to him.
“Excuse me, but do you know a house called White Sails?”
“Ooo arr,” he said, nodding with enthusiasm. He was an older man with a weathered face and a mouth missing several teeth. He was wearing an old sack over his shoulders and a shapeless faded hat on his head. “Fish!”
“No, I don’t want fish. I want directions to a house called White Sails.” I tried not to sound too exasperated.
“That’s right. Err wants fish.” He had a really strong burr to his accent and he was grinning at me. Clearly only the village idiot would be out in rain like this.
“White sails” I said again, trying to be patient. “It’s a house on the coast near here. Could you tell us how to get there?”
He was eyeing me up and down as if I was a creature from a distant planet. “Round little rumps,” he said with great enthusiasm.
“Well, really.” I stalked back to the car.
“Disgusting old man.” I slammed the car door behind me. “He was leering at me and then he said I had round little rumps. The nerve of it.”
Belinda looked at me and then suddenly started laughing.
“It’s not funny. You might not mind having men comment on your shape but I certainly do. Especially when I’m cold, wet and hungry.”
“He was telling us the way, darling. I’ve remembered now. The headland is called Little Rumps. We’re on the right track.”
“Little Rumps,” I muttered. “What a stupid name for a headland.  Camels and Splatt and now Little Rumps. This really is a very silly place!”

If you love Poldark or Doc Martin then this will be for you. 

And next Tuesday, August 6, is the release date for the new Georgie book, called LOVE AND DEATH AMONG THE CHEETAHS. I'll be heading out on tour to lots of hot places. I hope to see some of you along the way! (There are giveaways right now on my Facebook page,

Kim Heniadis is the WINNER of THE MURDER LIST! Email Hank at hryan at whdh dot com with your snail mail address!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Mercury in Retrograde--and What Hank's Writing

I realized something today. The universe is the ultimate pantser. We absolutely cannot predict, from minute to minute, what’s going to happen, and what’s going to make a difference, and what is going to nudge the universe in one direction or another. Never ever is that more apparent than in the weeks leading up to a book launch.
Last year for instance, on the day of my book launch party for TRUST ME, it was so hot outside that the governor declared a heat emergency, and actually told people to stay home!
 I’m like: No no! Don’t stay home! Ahhh…..  But people came, standing room only, and all fine. Take that, Governor.
That’s the universe pantsing.
And you have to remember, when you gasp at how the writers of upcoming books glom on to every bit of reassurance and head-patting, that we were all in our writing places for a year, at least, before that. And alone, and wondering if anyone would read our books, let alone like them, let alone love them and buy then. It is a weird weird job. Isn’t it?
So that said, this pre-book limbo is kind of fabulous. If you decide to look at it that way  Like a panster. Because anything could happen, right? Anything. THE MURDER LIST comes out August 20, (You all know that, right? No pressure, it’s just my career.)
So first the Library Journal Starred review popped up! How great is THAT? And I was relieved and everyone was relieved even though the publishers insist it doesn’t matter, either way, don’t try to tell me that, sister. It does. Every word is fabulous.
It says (this is all we could fit):

HOW ABOUT THAT? Thank you, universe. And LJ, of course.
And then, you know Google Alerts? The other day one popped up and when I opened it, THE MURDER LIST had been named. an Ultimate Beach Read by CNN!  CNN!  Whoo!  Along with Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women and Jean Kwok’s Searching for Sylvie Lee and Dorothea Hart Benton’s  Queen Bee, and some other lovely books.
My fabulous publisher Forge,  too, brilliantly released a free excerpt of the book—and that’s always scary, because, well, it’s always scary. But look what happened? And it stayed there for days.

One reviewer said: “If Lisa Scottoline and John Grisham had a book baby, this would be it!” How cool is that?  And one reader dubbed it Grish-oline. Which is so funny, if you know what it means. And baffling if you don’t.
Book tour is coming—and it’s a doozy. Click here to see the schedule, so far! And I am crossing  fingers that you all will come see me. Did I say—no pressure, It's just my career?
So. What I’m writing? Is articles for CrimeReads, and the Forge blog, and Criminal Element, and interviews for all kinds of places—oh! Did you see the new Strand magazine? Whoo. Also great.

And in the meantime—I’m also writing the new book, and it is—ta dah, almost done! The first draft , at least, but if I can do that, I can happily happily edit.  Because whoa, it is TERRIBLE! I laugh every day, thinking yikes, sister, you’re gonna fix this later.

Here are the first two lines:

Lies have a complicated half-life. Nora--for now--tried to calculate the lifespan of her most recent one as she waited on the corner of Tremont and Union Park, the evening’s first snowflakes beginning to accumulate on her new--to her--black cashmere coat.

Ah. And here we go!
Thank you, darling ones. Please find me on tour, please understand the needy chaos of pre-publication jitters and excitement, and thank you thank you for being such treasured pals. Thank you for putting up with the nerves, and the yammering, and the general self-promotion. Once a year, okay? We all sound a little frantic.

Plus, talk about the universe pantsing.  Mercury is in retrograde. Until Thursday.  Do you change your life because of that? >>>And an advance review copy of THE MURDER LIST to one lucky commenter!

******AND! the winner of an ARC of CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR is Celia Wakefield.  YAY!  email Hallie (  with your mailing address.****

Monday, July 29, 2019

What we're writing week! Hallie's churning out press releases...

HALLIE EPHRON: It's' WHAT WE'RE WRITING WEEK, and boy howdy do I wish I could tell you I'm working on a new book. But instead I'm churning out press releases and guest blogs and generally flailing about in an effort to promote CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR which I finished almost a year ago and which comes out next week. 

It's very gratifying when a press release actually gets picked up in a local paper. Yes, there are still local papers. Lucy submitted this to her local Shoreline paper, humping my event at RJ Julia with Lucy on August 8, and voila...

Then there are the 37 other press releases I sent out to local media, talking up my event at Brookline Booksmith on August 7 in conversation with professional organizer, Kathy Vines (Clever Girl Organizing). So far, bupkes.

And I apologize if you're on my newsletter list. Though I promised you not more than a few newsletters a YEAR, last month alone I sent two.  (If you're NOT on my newsletter list, by all means go to my web sign and for heavens sake, sign up!)

I know, all of this smacks of desperation. But such is the world I live in.

As everyone knows by now, the main character (Emily) in CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR is a professional organizer who's married to a packrat. This is something with which I have firsthand experience since I'm happily married to a man who’s happily wedded to his stuff and spends his Saturday mornings yard sale-ing.

Here are my very own tips for decluttering your spouse:
Pick your battles: If his bureau drawers and closet doors shut, what’s inside them is not your problem. Your challenge is to stop thinking about it.
- Catch him unawares: At a quiet time, say, “Honey.” Pause and wait. “I need to ask you something.” Pause. “You know that pile on the basement stairs…”
Bring in reinforcements: Got any grown children up your sleeve? Enlist them to help execute whatever plan to which you get Honey to agree. Your help will probably not be welcomed.
Bribe, barter: The promise of homemade lobster bisque or a back massage can be a powerful incentive.
Sublimate: It will be much easier to write a book about his clutter than to get him to change.
- And finally, if he speaks to your heart, keep him.

My good news is the book got a full page review in TIME. Yup, that TIME. The review was written by (drumroll) Jamie Lee Curtis. Click here to read it! 

I am over the moon. I am such a fan of JLC. Adored her in A Fish Called Wanda. I was in wildly applauding when (in 2002) she posed in her skivvies in an unretouched photograph for MORE Magazine looking normal--aka not perfect! That went viral before there was such a thing as going viral. Then she made waves when she let her hair go gray. And she became a WRITER! 

She is, in short, a girl after my own heart. And she loved my book. SHE LOVED MY BOOK! I am over the moon.

More good news: A STARRED review in PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY. The reviewer called it. “Outstanding… may be the first domestic thriller to weave in Marie Kondo’s decluttering theory about discarding things that don’t spark joy.”

Please forgive me my frenzy of shameless self-promotion. It will pass.

In the meantime, please check out my brand new web site (another reason I've not written anything) to see where I'll be speaking (Brookline Booksmith August 7, RJ Julia in Madison CT (with Lucy!) August 8.  And if you can stand to hear more about me me me and my book book book, go to my web site and sign up for my newsletter.

If you want to read the first two chapters gratis, go here. And here.

Okay. Now I'll shut up.
Or not...

Are you a neatnik? Organized in the extreme? A saver? A collector? A packrat? Do you live with someone who has, let us say, different priorities when it comes to keeping stuff. Any tips for negotiating those differences?  

GIVING AWAY MY LAST advance reader's copy to one lucky commenter.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

I used to love you but now...not so much.

JENN McKINLAY: When I was in my twenties, I lived with my older cousins, Brad and Greg, during the summers in Connecticut and it was a free for all of take out food, piles of laundry, late night movies, commiserating over heartbreaks (mine) and sharing existential crises (also, mine). Naturally, the twins are two of my favorite people, forever and ever, and I remember while living together that they were impressed that I could wallpaper the bathroom, perfectly, but I could not cook a meal. I’m a baker not a cook, yes, there’s a difference. Their advice, and this is why I love them, was to never learn so as not to become someone’s kitchen drudge.

Flash forward seven years, I am living alone in Arizona and need to eat. Huh. That eating out thing gets expensive, especially when you no longer work in restaurants and can’t charm the chef into throwing the rejected filet, swordfish, or lobster tail your way. Snap! So, I started cooking. I even began to enjoy it, a little. A few more years passed, and I became a wife and  mom. Now cooking became an imperative. Thankfully, I began to enjoy it, mostly, because I have a partner who cooks the meat so I could focus on the sides. Real mac and cheese (never from the box) is my signature dish, and I am fortunate to have dudes who eat what is put before them (or go hungry) so it was rewarding as well. But now eighteen years have passed, and I’m soooo over it.

No, seriously, I’m so done with the cooking thing -- I can’t even. I’ve discussed this with many of my mom friends and they feel the same way. 

So, how about you, Reds? What’s something you used to love but now can’t stand?

RHYS BOWEN: Oh Jenn, I agree with you completely. I have never been a big fan of cooking. I like to eat well and we used to entertain for business a lot so I've learned to be a pretty fair cook but now it seems like such an effort. What I need is Mrs. Bridges so I can summon her and say "What do you suggest for dinner tonight?" and she'll say, "Oh, I think the quail in aspic followed by a nice steak pie, my lady."
Actually I don't mind the actual cooking part. What I dislike is the thinking about it. The planning. John doesn't mind doing the shopping but he always asks me, "What do you have in mind for dinner?" and I have absolutely nothing in mind. (And I’ve just noticed that I’ve used the word mind 4 times in one sentence. My copy editor would go bananas.)
Apart from cooking I still find joy in the things I've loved all my life: I still sing in a choir. I still paint and sketch. I still like to hike when my knee isn't playing up. I certainly like to travel. Oh, but something else I no longer enjoy... roughing it. No more sleeping in tents, fetching water from a tap two miles away, lighting campfires. Give me a Marriott any day please.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, gotta agree. I used to cook elaborately and experimentally, lavish dinner parties that took hours and hours to prepare. For just us, even, I reveled in wonderful combinations and sauces, joyfully creating, concocting, and presenting. Now--well, okay then.  Cooking is just not my thing. It takes SO LONG. I do not have that long.  I am still a great cook, and when I am inspired, I rock.  Last night we had grilled corn-feta-tomato-and-basil salad with grilled shrimp and snow peas. It was so pretty, I took a photo of it.  Tonight , we are carrying out from The Local.

Other things I've fallen out of love with...hmmm. The radio. Weird. I never listen to the radio-radio. Because, I guess, I'm rarely in the car.  Long leisurely shopping. trips. Definitely over that. Just send me the thing.  And I never write checks for bills anymore--everything is on auto pay.  Running! HA. I used to feel like I was flying, I loved it so much. My knees did not. Totally over that.

HALLIE EPHRON: Out of love with driving. I wish I could just say Home, Jeeves... and get whisked to wherever.

I still love to cook for the people I love. I adore planning what to make when my kids and grandkids come to visit. They're so busy day to day, I know it's a treat for them to come here and get pampered... food-wise.

I used to love to swim in the ocean, and I was a passable body surfer. Now it's too cold. Too salty. Too scary. And was that a shark??

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I won't say I'm out of love with cooking, because I still love trying new things and I'm very interested in food. But there are lots of nights when I do feel like somebody's kitchen drudge, especially with a husband who does no cooking at all, not even grilling. To be fair, he always offers to get take out, but there are only so many times a week I want to eat that. Or pay for it. And I am TOTALLY over doing any kind of formal entertaining like dinner parties. Way too much work! When my girlfriends come over for wine these days, they're lucky if I put out a plate of cheese.

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Flying. I used to love flying (and getting a pilot's license is still on my bucket list) but oh, my God, flying commercially is SUCH a dreadful experience these days. I'm not even going to complain about the security lines. It's the percentage of flights late, or rescheduled, or oops, sorry, you can't use your miles after all (because the plane only allots three seats for mileage and you didn't make your reservation back in 2011.) It's shuffling into the Jetway with a hundred other people, some of whom seem to still be in their pajamas, everyone intent on getting their carry-on into an overhead bin, because the airline charges for every checked bag. And for snacks. And for pillows and blankets. I'm waiting for the rest rooms to become coin operated. Then the pleasure of squeezing yourself into a seat that's quite comfortable - if you're a ten year old child. A short ten year old child.

I flew a lot as a child myself, and thus can remember when flying meant dressing nicely, and men at the airport who whisked your luggage away for you, and meals on every flight served on china with real silverware (the food wasn't very good, even back then, but the presentation was much nicer.) Now admittedly, I wasn't paying for any tickets those days, and I understand it's comparatively much, much less expensive to get from here to there nowadays. But believe me, we're still paying for it. Just not in dollars.  Nowadays? If I can drive, bus or train to a place within a day, I do that instead.

LUCY BURDETTE: I love thinking about food, especially for a special dinner. But the night after night can become drudgery, especially with a husband who can only think of "spaghetti" when asked what he wants for dinner. Luckily I love spaghetti too...

I am also over group cycling trips, though honestly, I only had to try one to realize that it wasn't my thing. 

And over trying to read books that aren't grabbing me even if everyone else loves them...

And really over driving in snow or otherwise terrible weather. Though I realize I never liked those either:) but now I'll just stay home...

What about you, Readers, what have you stopped loving?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Flexibility by Jenn McKinlay

JENN McKINLAY: It’s been quite a week. Instead of living large in NYC at a writer’s conference as planned, meeting with author friends and my publisher while celebrating my giant step into women’s fiction, I’ve been hunkered down at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in MA while recovering from Shingles. Yes, Shingles, in all of its swollen nerve ending, blistered agony. It was also completely unexpected at my age -- at least to me.

Nervous system - where the varicella zoster virus sits after a person
has chicken pox until it decides to come back as Shingles!

     This was one of those moments where life punched me so hard in the chest, I had to rock back on my heels and figure out what the universe was trying to tell me. As I said to a friend of mine, after days of trying to figure out how to make what I wanted to happen happen when it was clearly an absolute impossibility, “I think the lesson here is that I need to be more flexible.” Why the lesson had to be so painful, I don’t know. I suspect so it would stick.

     PSA: Shingles suck! Like, for real. There is a vaccination now available to people over fifty. Shingrix. I urge you to get it or get on the waiting list for it!

     Here's the thing, I like to think that I’m flexible. Being a writer, you have to be as you flit from creating to editing to promoting, sometimes all in the same hour. But upon closer scrutiny -- brought on by my cheek, hip, and ear full of blisters no doubt -- I realized, I’m not really flexible at all. In fact, I’m a bit of a toddler as in, I want what I want when I want it. I’m also the sort of person who when committed to a plan has a very difficult time changing the plan, or the plot, or dare I say, the title.

     Yes, this leads us back to the world of writing. In the course of five months, I thought of a book in a new genre, wrote the book, sold the book, and then rewrote the book from third person to first person but was then informed that the title was a no go. Huh. I did not receive this news well, in fact, some might say I was rather inflexible about it. But I’m a team player so I started conjuring up new title ideas. I asked everyone, including the Reds, for suggestions. In the end, over one hundred titles were offered and rejected. My stress level was higher than ever before because, frankly, I still wanted my original title. Side note: I’m pretty sure all of this title drama -- along with my skin cancer treatments, rearing of hooligans, and other life incidents -- is what brought on my Shingles but…whatever. 

     Finally, a new title was decided upon and met with approval by the powers that be. In case you thought authors have any say in their titles, cover art, and occasionally their plot points, let me disabuse you of that notion here. We don’t. We can fight for what we want but it doesn’t generally (read very rarely) go our way.

     Back to life lessons. While pondering my blisters and my apparent need to be more flexible, I decided, with a pep talk from the Reds and others, to embrace the new title to the book. So, now I’ll share it with you. The book formerly known as The Gap Year is to be called Paris Is Always a Good Idea, coming out in July 2020. Despite the weeks of angst, I am very excited and I’ll bore you with more information on the book as the release date gets closer. To reward myself for my acquiescence, I'm planning a trip to Paris, for  more boots on the ground research, of course.

     In the meantime, I am trying to incorporate a new level of flexibility into my life. Traffic on the highway? It’s cool. I’ll get there when I get there. Hooligans not texting me back in a timely fashion? It’s all good. They’ll get to it when they get to it. Deadline fast approaching? No worries. The world will not actually implode if I turn in a book a few weeks late…um, I’m pretty sure. See? I’m getting there. Totally, working this whole flexibility thing!

How about you, Reds and Readers? How flexible are you with changes of plan? Any other gut punches from the universe telling you what you have to work on?