Wednesday, August 16, 2017

For Some Levity: Picture Books

As a kid, I loved to draw, color, doodle. I'm not sure when that stopped for me (my teens, maybe?), but I wish I'd never given up on art. I'm now in awe of the illustrators I meet, and the cool art they produce. Maybe I'll get the bug and pick it up again...

This is me, happy as a clam with my crayons. I think someone did a DIY haircut job on the bangs there... :-)

With the news being very bleak, I find myself craving some levity. Plus, I had a few good picture book ideas, so it was really for research (honest, I swear :-) ) that I picked up a stack of picture books. I've been hiding out in the reading nook of my office (if you don't have one, I highly recommend it), curling up with a blanket and a cat, and pretending to be little.

Stack the Cats is super fun, if you're into cats and counting. Dragons Love Tacos is still a favorite of mine. Here Comes The Easter Cat made me smile.

And I re-read my friend Dori Kleber's More-Igami, a book I wish I'd written, it's so beautiful. I'm pretty sure you're never too old to enjoy a good picture book.

I think I'll stay in picture book land, for just a little while longer, at least until the craziness ends.

Do you have a favorite title to share?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Where to find me this Fall

Fall! I know, aren't you irritated when you see fall-themed decorations in the store when it's eighty-plus degrees outside? Let us have our summer, people... I'm looking at you, Hobby Lobby: Christmas d├ęcor is just not on in August.

But I did want to share some places I'll be speaking/signing this fall, plus a podcast. In case you're looking for some writing inspiration, as most of these events are for writers. I'll be cruising around on my trusted ol' Honda Element.

Sept. 8-10, 2017, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference:  I'll be talking about marketing plans for writers, the kidlit market (everything you need to know if you want to write for kids), and I'll show you how to outline your novel using plot points.

There's even a podcast of me talking about all this stuff, in case you're interested...

Sept. 16th: I'll be signing books at the Lone Tree Library (Denver), along with all my Rocky Mountain Chapter Sisters in Crime friends. If you're into mysteries, this seems like the perfect way to get the scoop on your local mystery authors.

Oct. 7-8, 2017, Rocky Mountain SCBWI Conference: This is a conference for kidlit writers, so if this is you, come on and join in on the fun! I'll be talking about how to write a MG/YA mystery, and how to put together a marketing plan (yes, you need one). There are some awesome speakers there, including Matt De la Pena...

Okay, so this is where my self-promotion ends. Although to tell you the truth, these events are pretty awesome for all the other speakers and stuff...

Hope to see you there! Seems like Denver is the place to be this Fall.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where do you get your book recommendations?


Summers are all about reading for me. I don’t know if it’s the longer days, the heat, or the feeling of being on vacation (even when I’m not) that make me want to read, but I do. So far, I’ve read about a book a week, which is pretty impressive for me.

I’m asked sometimes where I get my book recommendations from, so I thought I’d share…
Goodreads is like my library online: I can keep track of what I’ve read, post reviews if I want, and see what new releases are out there. If I add an upcoming book to my shelf they’ll even send me an email to let me know it’s available. Pretty nifty. I also like their giveaways; I find out about upcoming titles, and even get a chance to win a book.

The perfect place to find upcoming mysteries and author features. They have contests as well.

I get their newsletter, mostly to keep up with industry news, but they’ll review books too.

This Houston bookstore always has the best recommendations! And they sell signed copies, too…

You can find a list of blogger book reviews of older, forgotten titles on Patricia Abbott’s blog. I love to go there if I want to read something I might’ve missed.

I get my true crime recommendations from her newsletter—a must read for mystery fans.
I get so many of my middle-grade and YA recommendations from Jennifer's blog, it's awesome... Especially the more girl-friendly titles, for my daughters.
Likewise for Ms. Yingling's blog, for middle-grade and early readers.
I also hear about books from friends, sometimes bestseller lists, or just by walking around the bookstore.

How about you? Where do you find your book recommendations??


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mystery Book Review: Dark Saturday by Nicci French


Dark Saturday by Nicci French
William Morrow, Publication: July 11th, 2017
From the publisher:
Thirteen years ago eighteen year old Hannah Docherty was arrested for the brutal murder of her family. It was an open and shut case and Hannah's been incarcerated in a secure hospital ever since.

When psychotherapist Frieda Klein is asked to meet Hannah and give her assessment of her she reluctantly agrees. What she finds horrifies her. Hannah has become a tragic figure, old before her time. And Frieda is haunted by the thought that Hannah might be as much of a victim as her family; that something wasn't right all those years ago.

And as Hannah's case takes hold of her, Frieda soon begins to realize that she's up against someone who'll go to any lengths to protect themselves . . .
 

My thoughts:
I've followed Nicci French since the very beginning; this husband and wife writer team's is always on my to-read list, no matter the title. I will admit that Frieda Klein, the lead character in this day-of-the-week series, is a bit difficult to like at times, but overall the series is strong, atmospheric in its London setting, and generally a good mystery series to read.

Dark Saturday may be the better of the Frieda Klein books, in my opinion. The mystery driving the story is really one of character: is Hannah Docherty the killer everyone things she is? How much is her captivity in a (rather brutal) mental hospital shaping the monster she is depicted to be? Frieda Klein quickly becomes the woman's champion, which drives the story, and her investigation of the murder of Hannah's family.

Though the solution is a bit far-fetched, I loved this book all the same, because of Frieda's character. Recommended--read this series from the beginning.

**Review of an ARC from Goodreads Giveaway**

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Getting my gardening on in June


I’ve been so busy editing the first draft of my crime novel-in-progress (working title: 39), tempus fugit so much that the trees are green and the flowers are blooming here in Colorado. Which means it’s time to pull weeds and get back to gardening, always fun. Pictures coming soon...
I'll probably be editing some more this summer, plus, I've been dusting off an old YA manuscript I'd given up on--and I still have plans to write a middle-grade. I'll keep you posted on if I'll actually be able to pull it all off :-)

Books, books, books

I’ve been reading up a storm the past few months, with a trip to Europe and cold weather as a good incentive. I’ve been plucking titles off newsletters and other recommendations, sometimes reading just a little more out of the box—and being pleasantly surprised. I recommend Kate White's The Secrets You Keep, in case you need some summer reading.


Mystery TV

David Tennant is my favorite Doctor (Who), and I loved Broadchurch, so I was happy to discover The Escape Artist. So far, it’s kind of terrifying and dark; looking forward to binge-watching the rest of this mini-series.


For Writers

As the weather gets better, I’m already looking to the fall: I’ll be part of the faculty at Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ conference in September, and Rocky Mountain SCBWI’s Letters and Lines conference in October. Both are in the Denver area—hope to see you there!

Until then, I’m going to spend the summer editing, writing a few short stories, and planting some trees.

How about you?? Any good summer plans?


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mad March, Edits, And The Most Amazing School Visit Ever


March is certainly for madness—where is this month going?? Maybe it’s the nice weather that’s making time fly, or my giant to-do list…
In any case, on the writing side, I’m almost done with edits on my crime novel for adults. This project has been a long time in the making, but I‘m finally seeing the end. I’m not quite ready to spill the beans too much (I prefer to keep works-in-progress close to the chest, for fear of jinxing stuff), but I’ll say that the working title is 39, and the novel is set in the Deep South. To be continued…
School Visits
I don’t normally talk about school or Skype visits, because it feels too much like I’m tooting my own horn… But man, did I have the MOST AMAZING SCHOOL VISIT EVER!
I was invited to Campus Middle School in the Denver area, where they host an annual event called One Book One Campus. The librarian Derek Phelan and his staff choose a book that they wrap a week’s worth of events around, including games, activities, and book-themed decorations throughout the school. The kids don’t know what book is chosen until the start of the event—this year, I was honored to be the invited author.
A thousand copies of Double Vision were handed out to the kids; I did presentations, and was pretty much treated like royalty. The whole school looked like Paris, which is where Double Vision is set. Super cool. The Villager (local paper) and the Cherry Creek school district both wrote lots of nice things about the event.
School visits are a good reminder that you can really make a difference as an author. What fun, and what an honor…

Mystery Books and TV
I’ve been reading Heartbreak Hotel by Jonathan Kellerman, which I’d say is one of his best. The premise of the story goes back to the 1950s, to crime bosses and Hollywood. My only (tiny) gripe is that I wish Kellerman had shared a bit more at the end of the book about whether any of it was based in real life history; it was fascinating stuff, and his writing always makes the reading pleasurable.
On the nightstand right now is The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. This title came flew across my radar several times, recommended by various review sites, so I thought I’d give it a go.
So far, it’s a contemporary Agatha Christie with a side of Bridget Jones, on a cruise ship. I’m having fun reading this one. Easy to read, other than the sudden introduction of lots of characters (very Christie).
Mystery TV has me watching Major Crimes on TNT. Mary McDonnell is great, and the cast of characters is always nice to revisit—kind of like hanging out with friends. At Bouchercon (mystery fan conference) in Cleveland, the writers/producers hosted a panel for fans, and I was impressed by how hard they work to get the crime/cop/law stuff right.
For Writers
Come to Pikes Peak Writers Conference! I’ll be on faculty, along with a lot more famous people. It’ll be fun. Plus, Colorado Springs is a great place to visit; with some luck, you’ll catch the spring blooms and a bit of sunshine.
In the book department, I’m reading Be the Gateway by Dan Blank from We Grow Media, which came out earlier this month. I took a class led by Dan a few years ago, and have loved his personal, human approach to reaching readers, and enhancing productivity along with career satisfaction. Buy this book, follow his blog. Dan Blank sends out a newsletter every Friday that always has me inspired.  
What are you reading, watching, writing?


Thursday, February 2, 2017

February brings school visits, good karma, and new mystery TV and books

Welcome to February, the shorty of the months. Here in Colorado, we're getting a few warm days every now and then, which always cheers me up. I hope in your neck of the woods, you get a bit of spring thrown your way, too.

In the writing department, I'm putting a final polish on the crime novel-in-progress for adults before sending it off for edits, plus I'm starting a shiny new middle-grade novel. One of my writer buddies initiated a writing challenge for this month, so I'm joining in for fun. New writing is always good for the spirit.

And February is for school visits, too! Hot dog, the calendar is brimming with Skype visits, in-person visits--those are the best part of my job, honestly. Middle-graders are super cool.

For those of you looking to earn some good karma: author friend S.W. Lothian is building a little library for the oncology ward at the Princess Margeret Children's Hospital in Perth, so kids fighting cancer (and their families) can find a little refuge in a book. Donating is easy, and doesn't even have to cost you in postage (Perth being in Australia and all). Here's the post on S.W. Lothian's blog; contact him to help out!


Mystery Books

I'm reading the Edgar Award nominees for Best Novel this month; so far, they're all really good...

I'm in the middle of Alafair Burke's The Ex, which is having me stay up well past my bedtime. I fear I'll have no thoughts on who will win... What great reading--go check out the nominees here.

Mystery TV

We're Netflix and Amazon binge-watching nutters here in the Bradley house. In the past couple of months, we worked our way through Breaking Bad, Stranger Things, OA, Sneaky Pete (so fun!), Bosch, and now Travelers. I feel like we're living in the golden age of television at the moment, with the best stuff happening on these independent providers. Especially with the current state of politics, I gladly escape to some fictional world, don't you?

Any good TV shows you have to recommend?

Oh, and in recommended music, here's Barns Courtney's Fire. Has a cool, old-school vibe to it.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Congrats to the Edgar Award nominees!

A quick shout-out to the nominees of the Edgar Awards, announced today (Mr. Poe's birthday) by Mystery Writers of America! This list always send me to the bookstore to add to my ever growing TBR pile...

Here are the nominees for the YA and Juvenile (that's the kid and MG category) mystery novels; you can find the full list on the Edgars website.

Best Juvenile:

Summerlost by Ally Condie (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton BFYR)
OCDaniel by Wesley King (Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)
The Bad Kid by Sarah Lariviere by  (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand  (Simon & Schuster – Simon & Schuster BFYR)
Framed! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster – Aladdin)
Things Too Huge to Fix by Saying Sorry by Susan Vaught
(Simon & Schuster – Paula Wiseman Books)

Best YA:

Three Truths and a Lie by Brent Hartinger (Simon & Schuster – Simon Pulse)
The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry (Macmillan Children's Publishing Group – Henry Holt BFYR)
Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown BFYR)
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier (Soho Press – Soho Teen)
Thieving Weasels by Billy Taylor (Penguin Random House –
Penguin Young Readers – Dial Books)

Again, congrats to all the nominees!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

January is for new old plans

Most people hate Mondays, but not me. I love that first workday of the week for its promise of a new start, a beginning full of promise. January is kind of the Monday of the year, so I like this month, too. Call me crazy.

I'm making new plans, though most of 2017 will be about finishing what I started, so I guess there more new old plans, which I'd say is a good thing. I'm editing the crime novel project (no title to give yet) this month; here's a picture of the printed rough draft. I literally walk between the chapters, moving pieces around, taking notes, removing elements that don't work. I'm such a visual person... There's nothing like seeing your writing on paper when it comes to editing.

Mystery Books and TV

I'm all about setting this month, since my current work-in-progress has a very strong sense of place. So I'm trying to learn from the masters; one great author who nails setting is Michael Koryta, I think. I'm reading So Cold The River right now, after really enjoying The Cypress House.

I would love to hear it if you have any recommendations of author who are good at setting!

As far as TV goes, we watched both seasons of Bosch and loved it--I even got my not-so-into-mystery husband to like this series. I binge-watched River (British crime show) by my lonesome, it's also recommended. Great character in both these series.

For Writers

I'll be part of the faculty at Pikes Peak Writers Conference this year, very exciting. I'm always honored when I'm asked to speak, and this conference is one of the best for writers, I think (and I've been to a few by now...). If you're in Colorado at the end of April, come join me! There are some amazing authors (Tess Gerritsen, for one) on the faculty, so come and be inspired.

On the Web

I've been off the grid somewhat, since December is such a Sunday kind of month: nothing but holiday stuff and 'best of' lists. So I'll close with a picture I took at Rocky Mountain National Park instead, because I love the outdoors here in Colorado. Doesn't it make you feel all zen and stuff?

Happy New Year, all! I hope it brings you all the best, and good health.