Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Trick of the Light

I was lucky enough to win an Advance Review Copy of Louise Penny's forthcoming (August 30) book, A Trick of the Light. I won it by writing a goofy paragraph on how I would promote the book for her. So here goes! (Paragraph included at the bottom.)

This is the latest in a long line of Penny's excellent stories featuring Chief Inspector Gamache and the fictional
Quebec village of Three Pines. I have visited my sister many times in several areas of Quebec over the past thirty years, so I particularly enjoy reading about the small-town intrigues of our neighbors just to the north. Penny writes in English, and the village is set in the southern mostly English-speaking area of the province, but I like the way she weaves in French or allusions to characters speaking French.

The murder in this book involves art, artists, addiction, and, as always, relationships. Penny brings in her usual cast of characters: local artist Clara, now successful, and her less stellar husband, Peter. Myrna, the color
ful friend. Gabri and Olivier from the Bistro. Beauvoir, Gamache's second in command. And others. The depth of these characters continues to evolve, and we learn new things about their pasts and futures. Penny is able to show pain and heartbreak in the same breath as hope and redemption. Her writing takes you deep into both the physical landscape and the emotional hills and valleys of the characters.

She's also a master at plot, though, and keeps presenting surprises and twists, right up to the end.

It's no wonder Louise Penny's books are New York Times bestsellers, and
that they keep getting nominated for awards like the Agatha and the Edgar (and winning!). Louise and I have been Facebook friends for a year or two. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at Malice Domestic this spring, and this well-known award winner was one of the most friendly and gracious people there. And boy, can she do scarves.

My next goal is to start at the beginning of the series, as I did with Julia Spencer-Fleming, and read my way through, so I can more fully appreciate the development of the characters over time.

Here's the winning goofiness, followed by Louise's initial response:

I'm going to be your best and most eclectic publicist. First, I'd rent a megaphone and drive my Prius around Boston announcing the availability of the next must-read Louise Penny story. Then I'd blog about it at Speaking of Murder and spread the word on twitter, facebook, at Amesbury Friends Meeting, at the Ipswich Democratic Town Committee, and in local organic gardening circles. I'd call my buddy Scott Simon at NPR and demand he interview you about it. I'd ask my sister in Hudson, Quebec, to tell everyone she knows from Quebec City to Ottawa (mostly Buddhists and farmers) to pick it up. I'd badger all my Sisters in Crime in New England to buy a copy. And then I'd sit down and read it myself! What a treat. Thank you for the honor.

"What a wonderful, and fun, message! I hope you're naked as you shout into the magaphone in your Prius! Attracting so much more attention. Really, a great entry. You have made the finals. Good luck - and thank you for being so lovely and passionate and supportive."

I urge you to preorder the book! Or put it on your list to pick up when it officially comes out. You won't regret it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Murderer Among Us

My fellow author Marilyn Levinson guest posts today. Thanks, Marilyn!

Edith, it’s a pleasure to be here, visiting with you on your blog, Speaking of Mystery. I’m happy to talk about my new book, A MURDERER AMONG US, that’s just come out with Wings ePress. It’s available as an ebook and will be out soon as a POD paperback.

Lydia Krause, my sleuth in A MURDERER AMONG US, has moved to Twin Lakes, an upscale retirement community on Long Island, to start a new life. Lydia’s appalled when her neighbor introduces her to the community’s financial advisor, a man Lydia knows is a convicted embezzler and responsible for having driven her sister to suicide. She exposes the man in public and exchanges heated words with his wife, who is discovered the following morning, mowed down by Lydia’s Lexus. Suddenly, Lydia is Suspect Number One. Employing the many skills she’s honed as CEO of her own company, Lydia undertakes an investigation to prove her innocence.

In many ways, A MURDERER AMONG US is a book about new beginnings. Though still mourning her husband’s death, Lydia finds herself drawn to Detective Sol Molina and the possibility of a new romance. Her relationship with her grown daughters takes unexpected turns. Lydia’s forced to confront one daughter’s old resentments and her extramarital affair. And, for the first time in many years, Lydia now has the time to nurture friendships with other women.

I am a great believer in new beginnings. While I’ve written books for children and young adults for many years, A MURDERER AMONG US is my debut mystery and a new beginning for me. I look forward to writing many more mysteries.

Marilyn Levinson

(Marilyn's book is available at and will soon be available at and, and available as a POD paperback)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Beginnings

Life brings us new starts once in a while. I feel blessed with quite a few just lately. Might I enumerate?

My younger son, the fabulous John David, has just earned his Bachelor's Degree, with Magna Cum Laude honors, from Boston University. He has a passion for food and the environment, and managed to earn those honors plus a couple more by following his passion. He's heading into the real world by running the summer Teen program at a local urban gardening organization, driving tourists around Boston in a PediCab, doing some cooking, and hoping to work on a sustainable farm or two in the next year. You rock, JD.

My older s
on, the brilliant and kindhearted Allan, is moving to the nation's capitol the day before his 25th birthday next week. He'll be starting a new job and living in the same neighborhood as his sweetheart, at long last. Best in love and life, Allan. I'll be down to visit soon.

The rainy Massachusetts spring has brought us, finally, sunshine and flourishing gardens, with my lettuce almost ready to harvest and the new hops plant reaching toward the sky.
New life after a long winter is always a delight.

A romance short story I worked hard to craft several (okay, eight? nine?) years ago has just been accepted for publication in an anthology, after I worked hard this spring, with the help of the Salem Writers' Group, to transform it into a murder story, although it's still also a romance. I really like the characters and the trajectory of the story, and am thrilled that others will get to share in it after it is published.

And the new book, the second in my Speaking of Mystery series, is actively underway. I feel I have gained skill at plotting and expression in my years working on Speaking of Murder. I already feel this book is better, although it's not yet half done. Writing new material makes me happy, keeps me challenged, and intrigues me as I follow characters around and write down what they do.

Ergo, life is good. What's new and good in your life lately?