10.24.15 - Your Saturday Bookish

Your Saturday Bookish: cozy fire

I need this. Forever.

10.23.15 - #XOXOConnects Readerfest (AKA the no-pants-required book festival)

What's better than attending a Readerfest? Why, attending a Readerfest in your pajamas, of course!

The lovely Laura Griffin and I are holding a Thriller roundtable at the ‪#‎XOXOConnects‬ Readerfest on Saturday, October 24, at 12:30 pm EST. You should come! (no pants required).

10.20.15 - Edgar Allan Poda

Edgar Allan Poda

Courtesy of my friends at FoxTale Book Shoppe near Atlanta, GA.

5.14.15 - 7 Minutes With... Tracy Grant

Meeting the lovely Tracy Grant was another benefit to my relationship with Catherine Coulter. We got to know one another at one of CC’s lunches a couple of years ago, and I’ve been entranced with her work ever since. She’s a very interesting woman – I mean, come on, how many people do you know who studied fifteenth-century British history at Stanford, co-wrote with their mom, and love opera? Tracy is now writing in the fascinating vein of fellow favorites of mine, Deanna Raybourn and Lauren Willig, whose work come alive on the page as history mixed with a dash of romance and a lot of suspense. I can’t recommend her enough both as a person, and a writer. She’s the bomb.  

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Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up?

"Children will Listen" from Into the Woods. The original Broadway cast, though I also listen to the movie version.

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today?

A scene set at the London docks involving a runaway child. It’s from my as yet untitled WIP, the next book in my Malcolm & Suzanne Rannoch Regency/Napoleonic historical mystery series.

What’s your latest book about?

THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, which comes out tomorrow (May 15) begins with Malcolm and Suzanne woken in the middle of the night by a friend who is a Bow Street Runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been murdered in his St. James's Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was found standing over the dying duke. Laura has been a minor character in the series. It was fun exploring her story - and her secrets. 

Where do you write, and what tools do you use?

At home curled up in an armchair. In Peet’s Coffee & Tea with a latte or a cup of Earl Grey. Or in the play park or Pottery Barn Kids while my daughter plays. I write on a MacBook Air using Scrivener, but sometimes I take notes by hand. I’m very attached to my Cross pen.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Different books at different ages, but THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer was a favorite from about 10 on.

What’s your secret talent?

I'm good at seating arrangements. Would come in handy if I found myself in one of my novels.

What book are you reading now?

WHO BURIES THE DEAD by C.S. Harris. Love this series!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I actually can't remember not wanting to be a writer, but the first I remember consciously thinking about it was in 3rd grade when we were assigned a story in school and characters and scenes poured out of me. From then on I was always writing something.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool?

Jane Austen and Tom Stoppard. I suppose it's conceivable I could meet Tom Stoppard someday. I think I'd be starstruck to the point of incoherence.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice?

"Don't get it right, just get it written." My mom, Joan Grant, with whom I wrote 8 books, had it taped to her computer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing?

Tell myself I just have to write 100 words and then I can take a mini-break, check email, look at Facebook or Twitter, read a few pages. Then another 100 after the mini-break. I can nearly always come up with 100 words (and usually when I read them over they aren't as bad as I fear).

Are you creatively satisfied?

Yes very. As long as I'm working on a book!

What would you like to be remembered for?

My writing. And, by my daughter, for being a good mom and inspiring her to be creative.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains? Beach.

Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Lattes or Earl Grey tea while I'm working.

Skydive or bungee jump? I like to create adventures for my characters rather than have them myself, but if I had to pick probably bungee jump.

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate. Though I love vanilla lattes!

Winter or summer? Winter. Good writing weather.

Cake or pie? I have to pick? Cake.

Cats or dogs? Both, though right now we have 3 cats.

Pens or pencils? Pens.

Truth or dare? Probably truth. Of course I might change my mind if I heard the question...

Print or ebook? Both. I still love print books and buy them. But I got an iPad to read out-of-print research books and found I love reading on it, so that's actually how I do most of my reading now.

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photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

photo credit: Raphael Coffey Photography

Tracy Grant studied British history at Stanford University and received the Firestone Award for Excellence in Research for her honors thesis on shifting conceptions of honor in late-fifteenth-century England. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her young daughter and three cats. In addition to writing, Tracy works for the Merola Opera Program, a professional training program for opera singers, pianists, and stage directors. Her real life heroine is her daughter Mélanie, who is very cooperative about Mummy's writing time. She is currently at work on her next book chronicling the adventures of Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch. Visit her on the Web at www.tracygrant.org

And here's a little more about THE MAYFAIR AFFAIR, in stores everywhere tomorrow!

In the elegant environs of Mayfair, Malcolm and Suzanne Rannoch live a seemingly charmed life. Malcolm, a former diplomatic attaché and intelligence agent, is a rising Member of Parliament. Suzanne is fast becoming one of London’s most sought hostesses. But even their closest friends don’t know that the Rannoch’s marriage is still reeling from the revelation that Suzanne was a French spy when she met British agent Malcolm and that she married him to gather information on British plans. Malcolm and Suzanne are hoping for private time to repair their marriage. But their peace is shattered by a late night visit from a Bow Street runner. The powerful Duke of Trenchard has been found murdered in the study of his St. James’s Square house. And Laura Dudley, governess to the Rannoch children, was standing over the dying duke.

Malcolm and Suzanne are convinced the woman they trusted with their children is not a killer. To prove Laura’s innocence, they are drawn into an investigation that will test their wits and the fragile truce between them. But whether or not she murdered the Duke of Trenchard, Laura Dudley is certainly not what she seemed. Revelations about her identity cut dangerously close to Suzanne’s own past. Malcolm and Suzanne realize more is at stake than Laura’s life and liberty. The investigation into the Duke of Trenchard’s murder will either prove the resilience of their bond–or snap it in two.

4.30.15 - 7 Minutes With... Jim Born

All hail Jim Born.

Not only because he’s an amazing writer. Nor because he’s a cop (two of my biggest likes in the world – writers and cops). 

Nor even because he went to a shooting range wearing a Killer Year T-shirt, and showed we debuts of 2007 so much love.

Not even because he spent a day walking around a conference with my debut novel in his back pocket. Not even because he’s, you know, cool.

No, we much all bend the knee to Mr. Born because it was he, and he alone, who cured me of my insane fear of public speaking. I’ve told the story far and wide (and, as some of you know, in the wrong forum, to the wrong people, using Mr. Born’s exact words – ahem), but I will sum it up here in less colorful language.

Nashville, 2007. The Southern Festival of Books. After his own panel, Jim was walking me to mine. It happened to be my very first time on a panel. I was scared. Actually, scared doesn’t even come close to describing the overwhelming fear and anxiety and panic I was experiencing (My palms are sweating just thinking back to it).

Jim saw my hands shaking as I opened a bottle of pills to take something to calm myself. He inquired why. I told him I was totally freaked by the idea of public speaking. He looked at me like I was a loon, and said something to the effect of, “What are you afraid of? The audience will rush the stage and beat you up?”

When I said, "Well, yes, that’s exactly it," we had a good laugh. He told me I was the expert, and I was the one who knew the most about my book. That the audience won’t know if I make a mistake or say something wrong. And they would forgive me if I did, because readers are wonderful people made of unicorns and puppies (I don’t’ think he said exactly that, but you catch my drift). I still took the pill, but it was the beginning of something for me. Every time I’ve ever spoken since, I remind myself that I’m not about to get mugged. It helps.

Jim has a new book out, which I highly encourage you to purchase immediately, and share among your friends. Any guy who will take pity on a scared girl and offer her succor is a prince among men, and deserves all the good things.

Welcome to the Tao, my friend.

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Set your music to shuffle and hit play. What’s the first song that comes up? 

"Night Moves" by Bob Seeger

Now that we’ve set the mood, what are you working on today? 

Today I'm traveling to New York for the release of SCENT OF MURDER.  I will be making a few notes on a co-authored book with Lou Dobbs.  It is the sequel to last year's BORDER WAR.

What’s your latest book about? 

Three K-9 officers and their relationship with their dogs.  They end up on a task force on the trail of a kidnapper that forces them each to consider how far they're willing to go to catch the suspect.  It explores the relationship between dog handlers and their super talented partners.

Where do you write, and what tools do you use? 

Usually all my porch overlooking the water on a simple laptop.  The only thing unusual I use is Dragon NaturallySpeaking.  It takes extra editing, but I've probably saved myself carpal tunnel syndrome.

What was your favorite book as a child?

THE LIVING SEA by Jacques Cousteau, and a young reader's version of MOBY DICK.  I memorized the first page of MOBY DICK from my father reading it to me every night.  I would then tell people I could read when I was only a couple of years old by looking at the page and reciting it by memory.

What’s your secret talent? 

I am an excellent chef.

What book are you reading now? 

WORDS OF RADIANCE by Brandon Sanderson

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

In my late 20s.  I remember seriously starting my first novel (unpublished) in June of 1989.

Who is your writing idol? Have you met him/her? If so, did you completely nerd out or keep your cool? 

Elmore Leonard.  Yes, I worked for him for many years.  Now it would probably be Bernard Cornwell, whom I have not met and will nerd out when I do.

What’s your favorite bit of writing advice? 

Keep it in perspective.  No one is shooting at you, and you're not putting a roof on a house in the middle of summer.

What do you do if the words aren’t flowing? 

Go for a run.

Are you creatively satisfied? 

Generally yes.  All things being equal, I have a giant fantasy novel that would take six years to finish that I would like to write.

What would you like to be remembered for? 

Good kids who have their heads on straight.

Alright, now for the really important questions:

Beach or mountains?  Beach

Coffee or tea?  Neither.  I don't think I've ever had an entire cup of either.  In my whole life.

Skydive or bungee jump?  Skydiving

Chocolate or vanilla?  Chocolate.  Vanilla should be outlawed.

Winter or summer?  Summer

Cake or pie?  Cake.  Pies are meant to be thrown.

Cats or dogs?  Dogs

Pens or pencils?  Pens

Truth or dare?  Dare

Print or ebook?  Print

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James O. Born is a graduate of Florida State University and received a Master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Psychology.

 Born started his career in police work as a US Drug Agent (DEA) and was part of the late 1990’s Miami drug war.  He then moved on to become a Special Agent with the elite Florida Department of Law Enforcement, working undercover and spending eleven years on the agency’s Special Operation’s Team (also called SWAT).

In 2014, Born coauthored the popular BORDER WAR with TV commentator Lou Dobbs.  His current series is a realistic view of police K-9s.  The first novel in the series Scent of Murder, due for release in April of 2015, follows the pursuit of a serial kidnapper and showcases police service dogs.

A native Floridian, Born currently lives on the east coast with his wife, Donna and has two children, John and Emily.

And here's a little bit about Jim's newest book, SCENT OF MURDER, out in stores now!

Two years after being tossed from the detective bureau for his questionable tactics catching a child molester, deputy Tim Hallett’s life is finally on track.  Assigned to a special K-9 unit with the best partner in the world, a Belgian Malinois named Rocky, Hallett has finally learned to balance police work with his family life.  But that all changes in the heat of a Florida sugarcane field.

While searching for a kidnapper, Rocky locks on to the scent of a predator unlike anyone has ever seen.  Or have they?  The more Hallett digs, the closer he comes to the case that ended his career as a detective and appears to be the key to a series of kidnappings.

When the trail turns to murder, Hallett risks everything to catch the killer, even if it means clearing the child molester who drove him to violence and ruined his career.  Along the way, Hallett and his partners learn the true meaning of loyalty and courage as their canine partners take police work to a new level and show that instinct means more than training.

A realistic view of cops and canine’s lives from a veteran law enforcement agent and award-winning author, SCENT OF MURDER takes the reader into the world of police service dogs in a way no other novel will