Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bouchercon 2016 Vignettes

Instead of writing out a piece on Bouchercon in my usual style of writing, that includes complete sentences and attention to grammar, I am offering vignettes from my week in New Orleans and that all-consuming, out-of-this-world experience that is Bouchercon.  So, here are my clips of Bouchercon moments, which are now precious memories.


Bouchercon Vignettes:

Holding Andrew Gross' new book The Only Man with several other books to buy.  Andrew's beautiful wife, Lynn, comes up to me and asks me if I'm going to buy The Only Man.  When I confirm that I am indeed going to purchase it, she guides me over to her husband, saying that her husband, the author, is right across the aisle and will be happy to sign it for me.  He was!


Getting to see the beautiful face of Teresa Smith Wilson, who I met last year in Raleigh after finding out we grew up in the same neck of the woods.  She is such a hard worker for Bouchercon and a sweet friend.




My daughter sharing five five days in New Orleans with me.  A time we will both treasure always.  After going on a cemetery tour, we walked down to Cafe du Monde, but it was lunchtime and too hot for coffee and beignets, so we went across the street to Tujaques and had a lovely lunch.
    



Finally laying my eyes on Erin Mitchell, who is probably the best human being of all of us!  Got to hug her and hug her, and then I hugged her!  Took a selfie with Erin and Sara Blaedel.  Pinch me, really!

 



Having dinner my first night in New Orleans at an English pub with my all-time favorite person Kristopher Zgorski, Michael Muehler, Ann of Oz, Patricia, and Catherine Lea.  Becoming friends with Catherine Lea was a bonus from this dinner.  



Finally meeting the beautiful, wonderful Alice Wright and Merrily Taylor in person and having dinner with them and Anne Cleeland, one of our favorite authors.  Spending the whole dinner talking books, books, books!  Anne is author of the Acton and Doyle series set in London, and the three others in this picture are absolutely in love with the series!




Introducing myself to author Martin Edwards, whose book The Golden Age of Murder is high on my TBR list.  I also want to start on Martin's Lake District mystery series.  And, the anthologies he has edited look amazing.  I'm going to treat myself with Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries for Christmas this year.  Martin is such a nice guy, a gentleman who makes you feel like there's nothing he'd rather do than talk to you.  I ran into him several times, and I'm planning on being better versed in his writing at our next meeting.



Getting my picture taken with Lyndsay Faye and her husband Gabe!  Cutest couple in the world!  Copy of one of my favorite books of the year, Jane Steele, signed by Lyndsay and another picture.

 


Meeting Catherine Lea and receiving her book Candidate's Daughter from her, which I am so looking forward to reading.  Having a late Sunday breakfast and supper with Catherine in the Members Room at the Marriott (I was her guest), talking to her at length, and having Ovidia Yu, whose Aunty Lee series I love,  join us at the Sunday evening meal.  Having friends from New Zealand and Singapore is a very cool thing. 



Meeting Julie Gerber and instantly knowing that I have a friend for life.  My daughter and I ate lunch at Palace Cafe with Julie and her daughter Jamie, plus friends Marjorie, and Liz and husband Nick.  I sat with Julie and Jamie during one panel and joined Jamie at the R.L. Stine interview.





Running into Jennifer Kinchloe multiple times in the lobby and talking to her, with her amazing enthusiasm, beautiful smile, and gorgeous red hair.  She is one of the nicest people ever!  We clicked like a Bic!  Hahaha!
 



Eating breakfast at Daisy Dukes with various friends--Stacy Allen, Harriette Sachler, Diana Chambers, my daughter Ashley Benthall, and Kaye Barley.  Best coffee I had in New Orleans there, yummy eggs, bacon, and hash browns, and colorful paintings on the walls.  This place may have appeared to be a hole-in-the-wall, but it turned out to be a gem for me.




Visiting the WWII Museum with Stacy Allen and Harriette Sackler and watching the moving documentary narrated by Tom Hanks.  I didn't get nearly enough time at this museum, another reason for a return trip to NOLA.  Stacy did teach me much about using Uber, as she is the Uber Master.




First people I saw at Bouchercon were Dru Ann Love and Judy Bobalik, which caused me to scream with excitement (John Bychowski is familiar with that scream) and hug them to pieces.  An auspicious start to the week!


Taking the St. Louis #1 Cemetery Tour on Wednesday, where heat and walking were a challenge, but worth it.  Who knew that Nicolas Cage has a spot waiting for him there?  After tour, I walked with my daughter down to Cafe du Monde, but we were too hot for coffee and beignets then, so we ate lunch across the street at TuJacaques, very nice.  Saw Jackson Square that day, too.





Tuesday night.  A lovely gathering with friends at the Napoleon House where atmosphere, food, and a Pimm's made me most happy.  Joining in that gathering were Terry Shames, Lisa Alber, Harriette Sackler, Marjorie Tucker, Meredith Taylor, Karen Buys, Grace Koshida, Liz Velapoldi and her husband Nick, and Robin Templeton.  I hadn't met Lisa before, and I love her County Clare series.  I had dinner last year with Terry Shames, too, but this year I had read her Samuel Craddock series, so I was especially excited to tell her my ideas about who Samuel should romance.  Don't all authors want input like that?  Hahaha!


  



Dinner with Laurie King and Leslie Klinger.  FOLs are so lucky that Laurie always makes time for us, and this dinner is always a highlight of my Bouchercon experience.  Marjorie, Meredith, and John gave gifts to all of us.  I met John Bychowski's lovely wife Kathleen, who is obviously a saint.  John Bychowski is, of course, the unofficial photographer of Bouchercon, for which we are all grateful.  Shown in the pictures below are Alice Wright, Karen Buys, Merrily Taylor, Laurie and Les, and Bonnie MacBird (another Sherlockian author).

 



Seeing dear friends Connie Smith and Cindy Clanton West, whom I met at my first Bouchercon in Albany.  Unfortunately, we kept missing each other in New Orleans, so we have some major catching up to do at the next Bouchercon. 




Meeting Terrie Farley Moran, whose books and conversation on FB are amazing, during the group signing of Blood on the Bayou Anthology.  Also during that signing, getting to hear G.J. Brown speak (I have a Scottish fettish), and meeting other authors for the first time or reconnecting with ones I already knew.  Edith Maxwell is always a treat, and I'm in love with her new Quaker Midwife mysteries.  And, my Bouchercon sister Kaye Barley was there signing as well.  And Greg Herren!  How nice was it to finally meet him!




Setting down in the bar with Kaye Barley, Lesa Holstine, David Magayna, John Purcell, and David Chaudoir.  Having more fun than the law should allow.  Meeting David is probably one of the best meetings for many Bouchercon attendees!  Also joining FOLs (Friends of Laurie King) in bar and having Karen Buys be the sweetest person in the world to me that particular night.




Walking down Bourbon Street one night with my daughter and surviving the smells of it when it's in full swing.  Heard some great music though and saw some interesting sights.



  


Visiting art shops with Kaye Barley on Royal St.  Taking a picture of her with a giant chicken painting and being admonished by the manager of the shop, but then being delightfully entertained by him telling us about some of the paintings.   Kaye found a lovely painting in a shop to take home.  We also shopped in a gift shop, being the quintessential touristy shoppers.




Went to Commander's Palace for an iconic New Orleans experience.  Was served a giant creme brulee, which was delicious.  Unfortunately, I was sick that evening and couldn't enjoy the entree.  However, daughter Ashley and friend Meredith Taylor immensely enjoyed theirs, and the service was out-of-this-world.








 
Listened to Zydeco music at Mulates Restaurant and had my first Po-boy sandwich, fried oyster.  Daughter talked me into this restaurant, and I'm so glad she did.








Second-line parade!  It sounded like it would be fun, and it was so much more.  Even the rain couldn't dampen the spirits of all those dancing along the streets.  We were a happy bunch of book lovers for sure.  The guests of honor all rode to to the Orpheum Theater in decorated wagons.  Daughter got a selfie of her and R.L. Stine that is an enviable photo indeed.






Reconnecting with Katrina Kruse, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, who is a smile a minute and who loves Elly Griffiths/Domenica De Rosa as much as I do.  Dom couldn't be at Bouchercon this year because her twins were going off to university.





My first volunteer gig at a Bouchercon.  In the Silent Auction pick-up room on Sunday morning with bestie Kaye Barley.  David Magayna had everything so well organized that I didn't have to do much at all, but I'm so glad to have gotten my feet wet in volunteering.


Finally meeting Jon and Ruth Jordon!  It was brief.  I was rather in awe, so I didn't push it.  I have got to get over being so shy, right, Bcon friends?


My hug from Matthew Clemens!  The man knows how to hug, and he is such a favorite person in my book world or any world.  Met his beautiful wife, the former English teacher, and now know the power behind the throne.  Here's a picture of Matthew and another friend, Jim Ziskin, on the Sex in the Morning panel, which was a well-attended panel.   And, a picture of Matthew, Judy Bobalik, and me that John Bychowski took.






This is where a picture of Jess Lourey and I should go, a picture I failed to take.  Arghhh!  This lovely lady is someone I have admire for some time, and I'm so glad I got to meet at last.  Salem's Cipher is in my short pile, very short pile.  And, Shannon Baker, I only got to see in passing, but I will definitely be catching her and Jess for a picture next time.  Stripped Bare is in my short pile, too!




Seeing fellow bloggers Kristopher Zgorski, Dru Ann Love, and Lesa Holstine.  Such generous, supportive friends!  I can't believe I didn't get a picture with all three of them in it.  And, I can't leave out Michael Mueller as part of this group of support and love, too.
 


       

My Jungle Red Writers friends.  First ran into Rhys Bowen and her first-rate gentleman husband John on the sidewalk in from of the Marriott and ran into them several times after.  Another world's cutest couple!  (see Lyndsay and Gabe entry)  Caught up with Hank Phillippi Ryan at the opening ceremonies and in the bar once.  She's always on the move, and I adore her so.  Got to talk to Susan Elia MacNeal in the bar on Monday, but she was busy working in her hotel room a lot.  Authors do have their deadlines, no matter what fun is going on.  And getting to briefly see Karin Salvalaggio with Debs Crombie.  I have to do better spending more time with these favorites.






House of Blues on Saturday night!  Listening to Heather Graham Pozzessere and her band and her daughter sing was a treat I won't soon forget.  And, of course Alexandria Sokoloff and her ladies, The Slice Girls sang, too!  The food provided was unbelievable and the drinks were a real steal.  Got to spend more time with Katrina Kruse there.  This party was the epitome of generosity and good will.  So representative of this entire Bouchercon experience.



Opening ceremonies?  I thought I was in a Vegas show!  Starting with the song "A House in New Orleans," the atmosphere and pageantry were off the charts, or as Mel B. says, "off the chain!"   And, did I mention the scrumptious food accompanying this ceremony?  Heather Graham Pozzessere and Connie Perry cannot be thanked enough for all the hard work that went into this magical display!





Tea with Debs Crombie and the Todds.  Debs has been friends with Caroline and Charles Todd for a long time, so those of us present at the tea really benefited from their familiarity with one another and sharing antidotes.  One of my favorite events!





The panels.  My favorite was probably All the Critics Love New York, as friends Kristopher Zygorski, Dru Ann Love, Kaye Barley, Lesa Holstine, and (new for me)  Erica Neubauer           discusssed favorite authors and books and thus great recommendations from the best.  Judy Bobalik and Jon Jordan put together amazing panels, and I can't begin to imagine how hard that is.





Book Bazaar and Book Room.  First, choosing the six free books after registration was about as much fun as a book lover can have.  Hardbacks of best selling favorites and irresistible new authors.  Then, the book room where vendors were set up to relieve me of the burden of having any money left after Bouchercon.  Of course, I always love buying new books here, but there's the added pleasure of finding older books, used or new that help fill in my collection of an author's hardbacks.  This year I found two Deborah Crombie first editions and a Lawrence Block.  And, then, somebody had to go and start giving away books for $1.  I didn't stand a chance.  Books I want to read for $1?  Yes, please.




Sharing breakfast with Marjorie Tucker and my daughter at Mother's, an iconic New Orleans restaurant landmark.  They really do have the best ham there!




Getting to taste Kristi Belcamino's biscotti!  Getting to see Kristi Belcamino!  Fantastic!  Didn't I get a picture with Kristi?  Oh, that is so not good.  I did get a picture of Kristi and Rachel Howzell Hall, and I was so happy to meet Rachel this Bouchercon!




Being in the presence of Lori Rader-Day, who makes me laugh, laugh, laugh.  She passed something to me that I will be spending some much anticipated time with soon.




Saw Catriona McPherson way too briefly, as I really needed my Scottish dose of her.   I did get to see Gordon Brown in a kilt at the House of Blues party on Saturday night, which helped in my Scottish addiction.  Catching Nancy Allen and her husband in a hallway and seeing that amazing smile of hers in a quick hello.



Watching from afar Craig Robertson and Alexandra Sokoloff in the Second-Line Parade.  Sizzle!  Next Bouchercon I will work up to having a conversation with them.

  


Meeting Linda Rodriguez on the escalators, brief but wonderful!  I am continually impressed by Linda's posts on FB, especially am grateful to her for keeping me informed on Native American issues.



Seeing Ali Karim in one of his many flashes through the hotel and speaking briefly.  I think he was on his way to a 007 instructional meeting.  Briefly talking to one of my other favorite authors/people, Carla Buckley.  Why isn't there enough time to have indepth conversations with everyone? 



Meeting Ramona deFelice, who is as amazing in person as she is online!  Funny and insightful lady.  I do want to talk to Ramona more next time.  Meeting Ayo Onatade, Janet Rudolph, Eleanor Cawood Jones, M'Lou Greene, Nikki Bonnani, Robin Burcell, Lou Berney, Maryglenn Warnock, and Bruce Coffin!



Sitting in the empty bar on Monday after Bouchercon waiting for Kaye Barley to finish her check-out so that we can share a cab to the airport.  Seeing Terri Bischoff sitting over to the side.  Going to tell Terri goodbye and telling her that Kaye and I are on our way to the airport.  Terri asking to share the cab with us.  A great taxi cab ride to airport with two amazing women and Terri explaining her "home" tattoo to me, making me want to get a tattoo more than ever.  Kaye sharing her tattoo experiences, too.  



Swollen feet, achy legs, and wet hair from walking in the humidity of the New Orleans heat.  Worth it!


And, my last cup of coffee in New Orleans, at Daisy Dukes', where the best coffee was served with a smile!















Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal: Review






Maggie Hope and the Maggie Hope series are such favorites of mine that I always fear I won’t do the books justice in my reviews.  Each book is an amazing read, and the latest, The Queen’s Accomplice, may be the best of them yet.  I not only love the Maggie Hope stories, I learn so much from them, especially about women’s roles in WWII.  I have moment after moment of discovery that continues to gobsmack me with the bravery of women answering the call to duty for their country.  In these books, the setting is Great Britain, so it is the British history that readers learn most, but as an Anglophile, I find that fascinating.  And, let us not forget that Maggie is an American who decided to stay in England and do her part for the greater good of what is right that transcends country loyalty. 

The Queen’s Accomplice starts out tame enough for Maggie, as she is doing desk duty at the SOE (Special Operations Executive) while she waits for her half-sister Elise to be rescued from Ravensbruck Concentration Camp and smuggled out of Germany to London.  After having served brilliantly in different war-time actions as a spy and code-breaker, including her stint as Churchill’s secretary and a trip to America with Churchill to encourage America’s entry into the war, the desk job is quite beneath Maggie's skill level.  She also must endure an odious, under-qualified boss who doesn’t know her accomplishments and asks her to make him tea, with a “dear” attached at the end.

As more women are deciding to take part in the war effort, the SOE is in charge of assessing their skills and suitability.  London in its ravaged state after the Blitz has few accommodations for young ladies traveling to London for their interviews with the SOE, which often requires an overnight stay.  Certain buildings are being used as temporary “hotels” for these transient women, offering only the bare bones of an acceptable place to sleep.  When the ugly beast of a copy-cat Jack the Ripper begins to kill those temporary residents seeking SOE employment, MI-5 turns to Maggie to help their office and Scotland Yard investigate the horror.  Maggie’s personal involvement with training some of the victims or knowing of their training in Scotland, where Maggie taught survival skills for a time, makes finding who comes to be tagged the “Blackout Beast” a matter close to her heart.  She was once a hopeful young applicant, wanting to do her part in the war, and the fate of being butchered and left in the dark of a London park is beyond tragic to her.  Not everyone is happy with women stepping up to the plate to help, and this would-be Jack the Ripper has obviously taken his displeasure to a murderous level of hatred and destruction. 

Of course, the Blackout Best isn’t the only one who doesn’t appreciate women leaving home to enter a “man’s” world.   Sexism is another battle which Maggie is trying to fight in order to provide equal pay and protection for women “unofficially” serving their country.   It’s a battle fraught with frustration and dismissal, and full of men who under-appreciate and undervalue how important women are to winning the war against Hitler.  Denying women the same rights as men serving puts women and their families in danger, surviving and financial.  Women who are being sent undercover to other countries, with France being highlighted in this story, need protection that they don’t yet have to return home safely.  Maggie’s friend, Sandra is one such woman getting ready to leave for an assignment in France. 

One of the best aspects of The Queen’s Accomplice for me was the appearance of characters from the past, when Maggie moves back into her aunt’s house and has some familiar roommates, and the creation of new characters with whom Maggie’s very life could depend.  Susan Elia MacNeal beautifully weaves in the old characters with the new, and gives the readers great dialogue as always.  With the familiar faces of Chuck and Sandra, her old housemates, readers see the reinforcement of how women friends support one another.  With new characters of Detective Chief Inspector James Durgin, the Scotland Yard officer with whom Maggie is working, and Vera, who proves that age doesn’t define a person’s usefulness, there is a growing community of those behind the scenes in a worn-torn London.  I always feel that I am walking along with Maggie in the devastation and optimism, and it is the brilliant characters and deftly described setting that brings me there. 

And how does the Queen and Buckingham Palace fit into the layers of this story?  Well, Maggie is a forever resourceful person, and the Queen is a mighty fine ally and resource to have.   

The main story is the “Blackout Beast” and his rampage on the young women wanting to join SOE, but the subplots involving Elise and her struggle to survive and Sandra’s impending trip to France come together to give a more complete picture of how the war is being fought on different fronts by different women in different ways.  Susan Elia MacNeal is one of the best historical fiction writers around, and the addition of mystery and murder to her stories gives an added satisfaction that is hard to beat.  It’s always hard for me to move on from a book by Susan because I know I’ve finished one of my favorite reads of the year, but she provides a wealth of additional reading material in her bibliography of sources, so that I can continue my connection.

An advanced copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review, which the above assuredly is.




Saturday, September 10, 2016

Author Spotlight: Lisa Alber

It's so exciting when my beginning of reading an author matches the beginning of her/his career.  As a reviewer and blogger, it's most satisfying finding new talent to follow.  I was just a bit slow out of the gate with the amazing new talent who is Lisa Alber, as her debut novel, Kilmoon, was published in 2015, and I read it in August of this year.  However, the up side to the tardy reading was that I was able to go straight to Lisa's second book in the County Clare series, Whispers in the Mist.  Both of these books are outstanding, and I'm now an ardent fan of Lisa Alber and this series.

Lisa's writing talent extends to telling the story of her writing life and how the County Clare series took flight.  She graciously agreed to answer some interview questions for me, and her answers are fascinating.  From the creation of the fictional town of Lisfenora to the back story on her match maker character, Lisa gives intriguing insight to her stories.




Interview:

Reading Room: What led you to write a story set in Ireland? And, what or where inspired the village of Lisfenora? 

Lisa:  I set the first novel I wrote (which will never be published) in Ireland, in part because I fell in love with the descriptions of County Clare, Ireland, while reading a memoir called Whoredom in Kimmage. I was particularly struck by the atmospheric details about an area called the Burren. That first novel never went anywhere, but Ireland stuck, and when I finally traveled over there, I fell in love with it for real.

During my first visit to Ireland, I landed by happenstance (because I’d picked a B&B pretty much at random) in the village of Lisdoonvarna. This was my first taste of village life. The next village over is Kilfenora. So, I merged the names to create my village, Lisfenora! Ta-da! Lisfenora is a little like a more bustling, bigger Lisdoonvarna mixed with yet another town (not village—towns are bigger) named Ennisytmon, which has lovely, colorful old shopfronts.


Reading Room:  Matchmaking is a fascinating hook for me in this series, and Liam is wonderfully mystic. How did that come about as a feature of the story?

Lisa:  Returning to my first trip and Lisdoonvarna: I happened to notice a pub called the “Matchmaker Bar,” which seemed a bit funny. So I asked around and received quizzical responses: “You mean you’ve never heard of the matchmaking festival?” I was amazed by the idea of a real matchmaker and a yearly festival. But of course, since I’m dark by nature, I thought in terms of a matchmaker with a dark past rather than a matchmaker you might see in a Hallmark movie.

And the charmed quality he has when it comes to matchmaking? Well, I’m not sure where that comes from except that I love a little magical realism—you know the way Alice Hoffman weaves it into her stories? I just like the idea that Liam the Matchmaker could be uncannily good at matchmaking the way some people are uncannily good at math.


Reading Room:  There are so many interesting characters in this series. The first book, Kilmoon, focused on Merrit Chase and her quest to meet her biological father, who happens to be the matchmaker of Lisfenora, Ireland. Whispers in the Mist focuses more on Detective Sergeant Danny Ahern and his life. Will the character focus change in each book of the series (not that the main characters aren’t a strong part of each story)? Who do you consider the main character? Or is it more an ensemble cast?

Lisa:  I see the series more as an ensemble cast with Merrit and Danny always present, perhaps more, perhaps less, depending on the story. I can safely say that I will always have new characters enter the picture for the murder mystery aspect of the story. These new characters will pull in either Danny or Merrit, or both of them. In my next novel (PATH INTO DARKNESS, Midnight Ink, 2017), the story continues to be more Danny’s than Merrit’s simply because of where I left him at the end of Whisper in the Mist. But then, for my next next novel, I’m interested in a story that brings us back to Merrit.

So, I’m fluid, I guess. And, I’d love to circle back around to some of the minor characters and expand on them. Like the Queen Bee Mrs. O’Brien! What’s her story? I’m finding her more and more interesting, and she keeps cropping up unlike some of the other minor characters. She’s got a story, for sure!


Reading Room:  The legend of Grey Man was deliciously spooky in Whispers in the Mist. Was this one of the superstitions or mythical Irish tales that you picked up while in Ireland? Which came first, Grey Man or your story?

Lisa:  Grey Man! While in Ireland during my third trip, I bought the cutest little illustrated book called A Field Guide to Irish Fairies. I love folklore and myth, in general. Back in Oregon, I was browsing through the book and came upon a description of Grey Man, a predatory fairy that disappears people undercover of mist and fog. I loved that on so many levels—such a great metaphor for an antagonist. Plus, it suggested a sinister and atmospheric feeling that attracted me.



Reading Room:  I know that you recently spent time in Ireland doing research for your third book in the series. What was different about this trip than trips in the past?

Lisa:  Yes, in March/April I went to Ireland for the fourth time. What a difference being a published author makes when it comes to novel research! Previously, I felt a tad sheepish when I entered police stations (as an example) to ask for time with an officer. Now, I can pull out an *actual* book and start the process with more of a show-and-tell, which makes it easier. Also, this time around I felt like I was coming home, which was so nice. I reconnected with some of the people who had helped me on previous trips—what a blast that was.



Reading Room:  I’m interested in when an author starts feeling successful. With your two major hits of Kilmoon and Whispers in the Mist out, have you started to breathe a sigh of relief about making it as a writer?

Lisa:  Thanks for using the word “hits,” but, oh gosh, this question makes me laugh, but not in bad way, I assure you. Excluding writers such as Stephen King or Gillian Flynn, who have obviously “made it,” I wonder if any of us ever breathe a sigh of relief? There’s always the next thing, you know? For example, I was talking to a friend who has won an Anthony  Award, who has many books out, and who is trying to get to the next stage of his career, which would mean nabbing a big-hitter literary agent to land my friend the really big deals. From my perspective, he’s made it, but from his perspective, not so much.

So, I suppose I don’t feel successful, because I’m still early enough in my career that getting my books published isn’t a sure thing. Contract renewels are stressful! I do feel lucky that I’ve gotten two books published so far, with a third in the hopper, and cross fingers for after that! I suppose I’ll feel successful when I stop feeling that I’ve been lucky … Hope that day comes!


Reading Room:  Many writers seem to like being in a group with other writers and blogging. How did your involvement in ShadowSpinners come about? And, do you ever find doing your own blog, Lisa Alber’s Words at Play, and the ShadowSpinners overwhelming, with the writing you need to do too? How does being a ShadowSpinner benefit you?

Lisa:  ShadowSpinners is the brainchild of writer Christina Lay. There’s a group of us Oregon writers who have grown close over the years, and we’ve holed up for writers retreats together on many occasions. ShadowSpinners is just a labor of love at this point, I think. Does it benefit me? I don’t know. Probably not much, but … On the other hand, it’s fun to be a member of a tribe.

I do find blogging overwhelming at times. My poor personal blog—you can see that I haven’t been keeping up with it!


Reading Room:  I have to ask this question of each author I interview because what you read is of interest to fans. So, Lisa, what are you currently reading and/or what’s waiting on your nightstand for you to start?

Lisa:  My nightstand’s a mess that’s for sure—so’s the carpet in front of my nightstand! I just finished reading Heather Gudenkauf’s latest, MISSING PIECES, and a debut I picked up at the bookstore: THE HOUSE BETWEEN TIDES by Sarah Maine. Yes, I actually browse bookstore shelves to find new authors! (In fact, I’m not that loyal. I don’t necessarily keep up with all my old faves. I like to discover new authors, which means I was reading Gillian Flynn and Ann Cleeves before they became Gillian Flynn--oh my!—and Ann Cleeves—oh my!).

Now, I’m starting novel research reading for my next novel. I just started reading WHISPERING HOPE, The True Story of the Magdalene Women. Wish me luck—it’s going to be a toughy.



Reading Room:  And, I like to end with this question. Other than already published bio material, what’s something you’d like for your readers to know about you? Do you have another talent, quirky (a master at tongue twisters) or not (play the flute), that you are willing to share with us?

Lisa:  I’m a total armchair psychologist. Always have been. I consider it a hobby of sorts, which is why I write the kind of novels I do. It also means that the way I enjoy my hobby is by using myself as a guinea pig. Sounds weird, right? But I love going to therapy. I’m a talented patient in the therapeutic arts. Seriously. I love talking to my psychologist, really mining into the deep stuff. We have such interesting conversations, and she a font of information about human behavior. I take notes, I ponder things—I just love it. I think pondering myself in the world helps me ponder characters in theirs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

September's Explosion of New Books

September 2016 brings so many new books to my reading wish list that I easily have over twenty exciting titles to share.  I would normally do a fall preview starting in September, but this month's abundance requires a post of its own. I'll list the titles by the date they arrive.  Good luck with completing them all before October floats in with an already auspicious harvest stacking up.  The titles are linked to Amazon so that you can click on them and read about them and pre-order, of course. 


September 3rd


September 6th


September 8th 


September 13th



September 20th


September 27th