How to enjoy a snow day


Let Trillian (rat-cha)  show you (if the vid doesn’t show, go here

Looking forward to a snowbound writing day. Have an essay on #pitmad to finish, and I’m very excited by my latest novel project, which is already at a strong 25k words.This is the murder book that was supposed to be three novellas about a crime writing program in a small college town, but I liked the uneasy partnership between the two main characters of the first story so much, I decided I wanted to try to write more about them as the most dysfunctional sleuthing partners ever–an unethical true crime writer and her mentally unstable grad assistant. If I can keep the puppy happy and calm, I’d like to think I can push through to a readable full draft by June-July? I’d set my goal sooner, but April is effed by conferences, so I won’t get much done during that month, but all the f2f interaction with other writers is sure to fire up my competitive urges. Cheers!

The Jailhouse in Rhyolite, Nevada


We really wanted to see inside the cells, but we were too chicken to put our faces too close to the cell windows. (Screaming ghosts, you know).

8558961875_79979b0071_o 8558961189_f38fbe0122_oSo we did a snapshot with flash, held up high.

8560068692_e516651847_oROCK AND ROLL on the back wall.  Some kind of veil or curtain off to the left, spilling out of a cupboard. Single beer bottle near the front right.  Okay, so no cowboy wraiths trapped here, so what’s the story instead? Looks like someone tried to have fun here but thought better of it. As always, the closed box is better than the opened one.

The Agatha Awards Finalists and Bram Stoker Awards Prelim Ballot Announced


Crime and horror fiction your thing? Mine too. And I love writing award season; I use the ballots for crime and horror as shopping lists to fill my TBR shelves. Quite recently the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Awards prelim ballot was posted. Voting began Feb 1 and closes on the 15th, and it’s only open to members. (Note to self: need to join HWA).

Random creepy image I like:


In more close to home news, Malice Domestic’s Agatha Award finalists were just announced, and my dear friend Art Taylor appears TWICE in the Best Short Story category. Voting happens in early May at the Malice Domestic conference (Note to self: join Malice Domestic). Art won an Agatha last year for a story called   “The Care And Feeding of Houseplants.”

You may not have voting privileges either, but please do take a look at all the nominees. It’s so much fun discovering stories, writers, and presses you may have overlooked in 2014. Oh! And a treat from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine: A free pdf of Art’s nominated story, “The Odds Are Against Us.”

Let’s hope the odds are with Art once again.



How big is your whiteboard? (Spoilers)


Some fun. On the left is my whiteboard for The Juliet, due out this year from Pandamoon Publishing. On the right, the board for my current project, a murder book with the working title Mean Bone in My Body. The whiteboard I used for Death Wishing is packed away in the attic, but it was about twice the size of The Juliet board. The size of the boards has zero to do with the complexities of the projects (The Juliet is by far the most multi-stringed of the three projects), but wit my cheapness. The giant board for Mean Bone is left over from one of my husband’s projects. I wonder if using it (along with a whole-hearted use of scrivener) will affect what I intend to be a compact and tidy little mystery . . .


What you wrote in high school . . .


. . . was powerful and potent at the time, but today it prevents you from developing as a writer. Regardless of the quality of the writing, that unfinished, handwritten epic is like a clingy boyfriend without a job. Your high school fiction wants you to stay home with it and play games or watch TV. It may want to sprawl out, but it doesn’t want to grow up–it has you to make it whole, and that’s all that matters.

In particular, the fiction you wrote in high school doesn’t want to go to college. If you take it to college anyway, you’ll end up writing and rewriting its first chapter. You won’t get much further than that. I guarantee it.

The high school novel marks one of the most intense, formative projects of a writer’s life, so it is hugely important, not as a narrative but as a lifesaving passage to artistic identity. But the passion that the writer places in pages written during the nightmare/dreamworld of her own coming of age invariably arrests her creativity down the road.

I wish I could remember what the bridging experience was for me, how I learned to abandon the art for the practice of it. These days I still find myself reluctantly enabling the high school novel in the college classroom, which is one of the reasons I find great relief during nanowrimo season,  a time of speed, sloppiness, and desperate experiment–all of which help tear at the bonds to the past.

I do tell my students there is a ban on work begun in high school. The ones who argue with me 1) never consider that such a ban is unenforceable, and 2) tend to be geniuses.  I just wanna shake ‘em.