Thursday, February 21, 2019

What Are You Reading?


It's Thursday! I always look forward to see what you're all reading.  

I'm reading a new-to-me book and the start of a series. Felicity Carrol and the Perilous Pursuit is a mystery by Patricia Marcantonio. It's set in Victorian England. I'm not far into it, but Felicity reminds me of a grownup Flavia de Luce, for those of you who read Alan Bradley's series. When the book opens, the twenty-year-old Felicity has just set fire to the east wing of her father's house with a chemistry experiment that goes wrong. But, she finds a way to stop the fire from spreading. She makes a bomb, and sets it off. Felicity yearns for her father's affection. Her mother and brother died years ago. Now, she's of marrying age. But, she sets her troubles aside when she learns her mentor was murdered at the British Museum.

What are you reading this week? Have you had time to read?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Book Chat - Victoria Laurie's News

Passed on from Sandie Herron, the latest newsletter from Victoria Laurie, featuring her new series. Enjoy!

Introducing a new series from Victoria Laurie
The Life Coach Mysteries 




Coached to Death
Available October 29, 2019

Hello, my Lovelies!

Good Lord, I’ve missed connecting with you all on a regular basis! And yes, I know, I know…I sent you a newsletter only two months ago with all the forecasted deliciousness that 2019 will offer. (And, yeah, some not-so deliciousness, but we’ll get through it!) Soooo many of you signed up for readings in December that I felt RENEWED connecting individually with a lotta, lotta you! Thanks to everyone who booked a session; I’ve had a wonderful time hanging out with my peeps! (If you’d still like to book a psychic session with me, I’ve opened up a TON of new slots. So if you’re curious as to what 2019 holds for you, visit this link for more info: click here.)

ANYway, I had promised you a newsletter to let you know when to expect the good stuff, so here is your good-stuff newsletter!

First, as many of you might’ve heard, the Hallmark Channel had optioned my Psychic Eye series for their Movies and Mysteries Channel, and it really, reeeeeeally looked as if that was going to be a go—I mean, she was assigned the best showrunner (executive producer) and a gloriously talented director, but after a year of coming at Abby’s psychic abilities from several different angles, the network brass decided that they just couldn’t put up a show with a professional psychic without risking upsetting a large portion of their demographic. Hugely disappointing for everyone who’d worked so hard to find a compromise, but also—swear to God—a huge relief for me personally.

The truth is that Abby’s abilities were so contorted and watered down by the end of all that back and forth that I was very, very nervous we were so far away from her actual personality and talent as to render her largely unrecognizable, and it likely would’ve become a miserable experience for anyone who loves my girl. So in the end, the best decision possible was made for absolutely everyone involved. My goal is never to push Abby onto an audience who would become upset by her depiction, or angry over the notion that a professional psychic isn’t some crazy loon but rather a person with actual talents that are in no way an affront to God…their version or mine. LOL So, I really respect the network’s decision. I was honestly thrilled and honored simply to have my work considered by them in the first place. Like, not many authors even get to say that!

Now, for those of you who would still love to see Abby make it to TV, keep holding onto that hope! (My psychic sense says this will eventually happen!) I’ve been working very closely with that executive producer I mentioned and, along with fronting an adorable Christmas-themed screenplay I’ve written, she’s also going to start shopping the Abster to other networks because she feels so strongly that Abby could have a marvelous life on TV. Of course, I 100 percent agree, but I might be a weensy bit biased. LOL (And I know some of you will want to send me your suggestions for which networks we should pitch, but we got this, my sweet peeps!)

Next, you’re probably looking at that GORGEOUS cover at the top of this newsletter and wondering, “Is the next Abby out??? And did she go blond????” And to that I say, “Oh, soooo sorry, but no.” That cover actually belongs to the first book in my spinoff series, The Life Coach Mysteries, featuring Cat and Gilley—and, you guys, these two make the most AWESOME pair! Cat, now divorced, has moved to the Hamptons, and Gilley has taken up residence in her guesthouse. Cat has sold her marketing firm for mega bucks, and she’s now embarking on a more “purpose-filled” journey as a life coach. (Ha! Cat as a life coach goes about as well as you’re expecting!) Cat and Gilley’s hijinks-filled adventure begins with Coached to Death, which will be available in hardcover and eBook format this coming fall—October 29 to be exact—and it’ll be available in mass-market paperback the following September (2020). I’m already halfway through the second book in the series, which has one of the best twists I’ve ever devised in any book I’ve ever written, so, if you read the first book and like it, you’ll definitely lurve the second—To Coach a Killer—which will be available in fall 2020.

And, to those of you worried that Abby is finito—worry no more!!! I’m alsohalfway through the next Abby adventure (Fated for Felony), and I’ve mapped out the next two Abbys after that (and their plots are bananas good, you guys!). So hang in there just a few more months, my Lovelies. My goal is to have Fated for Felony available for eBook download by late March/early April. She’s coming, you guys. Pinkie swear! I’m also looking into a printable version, but that might be a few months later…it’s something I have to research and have several talks with the distributor over, which wouldn’t normally be a huge hairy deal, but at present there’s a freak-ton on my plate, so I’m just trying to keep my head above water and continue my writing streak to finish the next several projects as quickly as possible before I look at anything that complicated. LOL

And yes, I DID just mention more projects! So, at this point, I think it might be best to simply list them in order so you know what to expect: In the next few months, I’ll be finishing the second book in the Cat/Gilley series (To Coach a Killer), Abby XVI (Fated for Felony), the first book in another new series called Spellbound (that’ll be up via eBook download by June; I’m already three-quarters of the way through it), and two sequels to When (titled Why and Where…I know…obvious titles for a sequel to a book called When, right?). I’ve submitted the proposal for the sequels to When to my publisher, but I have no idea if they’ll be willing to publish the books this long after the first book in the trilogy came out. We’ll see what they say, but if they turn down the option, then I’ll simply self-publish the sequels, and those would likely be finished next fall. Also, Abby XVII and XVIII (as yet untitled) should be finished and available later this year and/or early 2020.

In other words, there is lots coming your way, my Lovelies, and I’ll be sending out newsletters to announce all the releases as they happen. For now, I just really want to thank each and every one of you for your patience while I get all of this new material into the pipeline. I’m so excited about all of the twisty, suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat plotting I’ve got laid out, and I think this is going to be the most creative and productive year of my writing career. Thank you for being an audience that has always appreciated and enthusiastically supported me and my girls. You guys are the best!

Huge hugs,

Victoria




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Planting Stories by Anika Aldamuy Denise

Once in a while, I come across a children's picture book that needs to be shared. This time, my friend, Donna, shared a copy of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré. Author Anika Aldamuy Denise's flowing language goes hand-in-hand with the beautiful illustrations by Paola Escobar. This is the gorgeous story of Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian in New York City, a storyteller, and the woman for whom the Pura Belpré Award was named, an award given to Latinx authors and illustrators. It's a story that made me cry.

In 1921, Pura Belpré came to New York City to attend her sister's wedding. She brought her own ideas of "story seeds", stories to plant. Pura stayed in New York after the wedding, first working in a garment factory. But, then, she saw an ad for a library assistant. The public library hired her because she spoke English, Spanish, and French, and they needed a bilingual assistant. Pura's role at the library grew when she discovered there were no books in Spanish. She told stories she brought from Puerto Rico, eventually made puppets for those stories, and, finally wrote a book to fit the needs of the children and the library.

Pura Belpré's story is a love story. It's about her love for stories, her language, children, the man she married. It's about her travels as an ambassador for stories. It's about her return to the New York Public Library, where others had taken up her role. But, she remained an ambassador, and the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library Association.

Why did I cry? The author and illustrator together created a book that imparts the message of stories and love, the importance of what Pura Belpré did. I'll admit, many readers may not appreciate the message or this book as much as I did. If the message of a librarian's role doesn't touch your heart, perhaps Paola Escobar's illustrations will. Planting Stories is a book for my heart.

*****
Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise. Illustrations by Paola Escobar. Harper. 2019. ISBN 9780062748683 (hardcover).

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought a copy of the book.

Monday, February 18, 2019

That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider

Bill Crider showed so much courage last year, sharing his cancer diagnosis on social media while he kept shocked readers and friends updated with the course of the disease that killed him. When you read the twenty-fifth and final Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery, That Old Scoundrel Death, you'll observe that courage one more time. Crider ends the series with the wit and humanity that we've always seen in the books.

When Sheriff Rhodes finds himself facing down a man with a pistol, he knows he made a mistake. It's the first of several in the course of the story, mistakes that make him wonder if he should be thinking of retirement. This time, the sheriff is able to grab the gun, and successfully arrest the man who had turned on another motorist, complaining he cut him off. While the other man goes home to change clothes, his story and his name prove to be false. But, everyone has a role in Rhodes' stories. In this case, that anonymous man soon becomes a murder victim.

It seems there are problems in Thurston, Texas, one of the small communities in Blacklin County. The issues surround an old schoolhouse. Some want it torn down. Others want it kept to commemorate history. It's a fight between some of the wealthy families in the town. And, that schoolhouse becomes the site of a murder, even before Sheriff Rhodes has to run in and save a neighbor lady from a fire as the school building burns to the ground.

It's getting to be a little much for Sheriff Rhodes. He warns everyone he might not run for re-election. He has a murder and a fire on his hands, but he still has to deal with Seepy Benton, who is now a private detective, two buddies who are up to no good, the social media that wants to make Rhodes a hero. Then there are all the day-to-day crimes that occur while he's trying to handle a major investigation. Retirement looks better all the time. And, there are moments when Rhodes looks at the community, wondering if they really know what the sheriff's department does. Right until the end, Sheriff Dan Rhodes threatens to not run for re-election.

Sheriff Rhodes has been a model for so many lawmen in other books. "His methods were old-school ones. He simply kept on talking to people until things cleared up for him or until he caught somebody in a revealing lie." Samuel Craddock, Terry Shames' Texas sheriff, is cut in the same mold.  Even Mark de Castrique's undertaker who investigates, Buryin' Barry, spends his time talking to people. We're lucky to have small town sleuths in the spirit of Sheriff Dan Rhodes. But, the sheriff's wit and humanity will be missed, just as we all miss Bill Crider.

That Old Scoundrel Death by Bill Crider. Minotaur Books, 2019. ISBN 9781250165626 (hardcover), 288p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - The author's daughter gave me a copy of the book.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Who Killed the Fonz? by James Boice

Arthur Fonzarelli, the Fonz, always seemed invincible on "Happy Days". The show celebrated the 1950s, with stories of family life and the friendship between Fonzie and Richie Cunningham, and Fonzie's love of the Cunningham family. Now, James Boice tries to recapture the nostalgia while writing what could have happened in the future, the 1980s, in Who Killed the Fonz?

Richard Cunningham married Lori Beth, returned from the service, and then packed up his small family and moved to Hollywood with dreams of being a screenwriter. He was afraid to follow those dreams, until Fonzie pushed him. Now, twenty-some years later, Richard has had one cult film, and an Oscar nomination. But, after falling for Cormac McCarthy's Suttree, he's worked on that screenplay for several years, with little hope of success. His agent offers him one last chance. He can write a screenplay for a prince's project, "Space Battles". It's a depressed Richard who returns home, only to have his mother and Lori Beth break the news to him. The Fonz was killed, flying over the guardrail of a bridge, into Lake Michigan, after he lost control of his bike.

When he returns to Milwaukee for the funeral, it's a step into his past, when he was Richie Cunningham, and hung out at Arnold's with Ralph and Potsy. But, Arnold's is losing out to the restaurant across the street, and the mill workers, like Ralph and Potsy, are the only ones who still come there. And, Richie's friends sneer and call him "Richard", a man who went Hollywood and is too good for them. One aspect of life hasn't changed. All kinds of women show up to remember Fonz at his funeral.

Richie finds several reasons to linger in town. A candidate for governor seems to understand Richie's fears of failure, and offers him the chance to write and produce a commercial. Then, there's that bike rider who shows up several times, a rider on a motorcycle that resembles Fonzie's. And, someone is leaving hints that the Fonz may not have had an accident. He might have been murdered.

While, Boice's Who Killed the Fonz? isn't as dark as the cover copy suggests, it does succeed with the nostalgia. If you were a fan of "Happy Days", it's a little bittersweet to picture the cast in their mid-forties, and older. It's easy to picture Mrs. Cunningham when she says, "Richard, sit down." There are stories about Fonzie, fond memories of the past, even the time he "jumped the shark".

It's odd to take a trip back to a show that was set in the 1950s, and see the characters now in the early 80s. Although it may feel like a series reboot, it's also an examination of a man's feelings as he looks back at life, feeling nostalgic, and wondering about his choices. Despite the lack of mystery, Who Killed the Fonz? is an entertaining story.

James Boice's website is www.jamesboice.com

Who Killed the Fonz? by James Boice. Simon & Schuster, 2019. ISBN 9781501196881 (hardcover), 208p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Book Chat - Some Pendergast News

Do you subscribe to the newsletter put out by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child? You might want to, after you read about their upcoming short story. Thanks to Sandie Herron for passing on the newsletter.




Constance Greene sat at the harpsichord, brows furrowed in concentration, when she heard a small intake of breath from A.X.L. Pendergast. She let her hands drop from the keyboard and glanced over. Her guardian was sitting in a comfortable leather chair by the fire, glass of sherry on a nearby table, a curious expression on his face. He’d been opening the mail that Proctor recently carried in on a silver platter. She noticed Pendergast was holding a black-edged card he’d just removed from a thick cream envelope…


And thus opens a remarkable and brand-new Pendergast story, entitled:


The Strange Case of Monsieur Bertin


Dear Special Reader,

We were chatting the other day about the dark histories of certain Pendergast family members, when we suddenly had a fabulous idea for a story—one featuring Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast and an old, old friend.

We started plotting it with great excitement. It seemed tailor-made for Pendergast fans: more detail about his mysterious past, with a setting in his home town of New Orleans. And though it’s a short story rather than a novel, when completed it ended up being not so ‘short’ at all.

But then we asked ourselves: what are we going to do with this story? Should we sell it, as with others we’d written such as Extraction? Should we give it to our literary agency and see if they could perform some kind of Hollywood magic?

Nah, we said. Why sell it when we can give it away?

We’re going to give it away. But only to our special readers, as a thank you for their loyalty and support. As a newsletter subscriber, you’re one of those special readers. And this June, all current newsletter subscribers will get a free, exclusive e-copy of“The Strange Case of Monsieur Bertin” along with that month’s Pendergast File.

As some of you may recall from Cemetery Dance, Monsieur Gaspard L. Bertin was the childhood tutor of both Aloysius Pendergast and his brother, Diogenes. He is a man who knows many family secrets. He was also present that day when Rochenoir, the Pendergast ancestral home in New Orleans, burned to the ground.

The story will be made available free to readers everywhere in the world. Because we’re not selling the story, Pendergast fans across Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas can enjoy it. (We love you all.) Again, the only requirement is that you are currently subscribed to the Pendergast File at the time the issue is emailed out, sometime in June.

***

If you have friends who might also want to receive this Pendergast story, please feel free to forward this email to them, so they too can sign up for the newsletter.Here is a handy link.

***

To make sure you receive our newsletters, consider putting the following email address in your address book or approved email list: dougandlinc@prestonchild.com. Once somebody has unsubscribed, or the email has been rejected several times by a spam filter, we cannot re-add that same email again: sorry, but our newsletter mailing service hates spam as much as we do.

Excellent. Most excellent.

With best wishes,

Doug & Linc



A few other items of importance for our readers:

--If you’re looking for an early Father's Day present, or a unique birthday present, there are still a few hundred double-autographed, first-edition copies of VERSES FOR THE DEAD available from the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. You can get one here.


--Doug is dying for people to see all the pretty pictures on his Instagram account.


--Finally, we are pleased to announce the launching of a new series of novels, starring our recurring characters Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson! The first book in the series, entitled OLD BONES, will be published August 27. Nora is directing the archaeological excavation of an old Donner Party encampment in the Sierras of California—a site where horrific cannibalism occurred. At the same time, rookie FBI Agent Corrie Swanson is looking into a bizarre grave-robbing and murder in New Mexico. The two women soon cross paths—and their solo investigations quickly morph into one terrifying ordeal. (Those of you who aren’t familiar with the tragic and gruesome story of the Donner Party can read about it here.)


James and Margaret Reed, survivors of the Donner Party.