Sunday, November 21, 2021

Another Crime Bake!

My favorite writer convention to attend is the annual Crime Bake, held here in Mass. We couldn't hold it last year, on account of the plague, so it was great to see people in person again. 

With about 250 mystery writers and fans, it's fairly intimate, and feels like a fun family reunion. 

Thanks to all who worked to make this happen. It was quite an effort this year, with the question: would we be able to meet in person?

I mean, check out this cool gang...

L to R- Brian Shea, his buddy Joseph, Michelle Clark, Chris Knopf, Bruce Robert Coffin, Mo Walsh, Ray Daniel, and Jill Fletcher. 

And these troublemakers- BJ Magnani, Matt Cost, Tom Lyons

More troublemakers: Rebecca Milliken and Nicole Asselin

For some, the whole family comes by to visit, as with Tilia Klebenov-Jacobs, here with hubby Doug and offspring

We hear terrific presentations about writing, publishing, and more. Here's Ursula Wong

Tilia and BJ also gave great presentations

Mystery Writers of America honchos, present and past: Stephen Rogers and Mo Walsh

A few folks new to me: first, Keri-Rae Barnum, with one of our 20th anniversary cupcakes.

And the tall and short of it. Bruce with Don Kaplan

Lots of fun and reconnecting. Can't wait until next year! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Interview with Author Clea Simon- her new book is out today!

Hello again- today we have an interview with author Clea Simon, who has a new book out- to join her many others. 

Here's the description of Hold Me Down (out TODAY!):

In this riveting work of dark suspense from acclaimed author Clea Simon, Gal, a middle-aged musician, is back in Boston to play a memorial for her late drummer/best friend, when she finds herself freezing on stage at the sight of a face in the crowd. The next day, she learns that the man she saw has been killed – beaten to death behind the venue – and her friend's widower is being charged in connection with his death. When the friend refuses to defend himself, Gal wonders why and, as the memories of begin to flood back, she starts her own informal investigation. As she does so, she must reexamine her own wild life, her perception of the past, and an industry that monetizes dysfunction in a dark tale of love, music, and murder.

Clea, a former journalist and rock music critic, is the author of three nonfiction books and 28 mysteries. A native of New York, she lives in Somerville, MA. 

Let's find out more about her work.

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. To be honest, I’ve been working on HOLD ME DOWN for so long, I’m no longer exactly sure how it started. In many ways, HOLD ME DOWN follows in the footsteps of my Massachusetts Book Award “must read” “World Enough,” in that it takes place in the Boston rock club scene and centers on the subjectivity of memory. I also wanted to explore how the music scene, which I dearly loved, monetizes some forms of dysfunction. After all, nobody cares to see a well-adjusted, happy rock star.
 I also know that I was inspired in part by an interview with Chrissie Hynde I read in the Guardian several years ago. In that interview, Hynde, the lead singer of the Pretenders, talked about being raped when she was in her early 20s by a gang of bikers. What got me was that she blamed herself for being stupid. I’m a rape survivor and this hit a nerve for me. I recognized an element of denial that I held onto for decades and the essential truth behind it: that it is easier to accept culpability than to acknowledge the psychically terrifying truth that you had no power.

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I knew from the start what one of the story arcs would be, but as I wrote it, I realized there was another, deeper arc. And, of course, as I wrote some of the characters went off on their own tangents. So I had some ideas, but basically I just sat down and wrote.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. The subjectivity of memory, how we recover from as well as remember trauma, and the lasting nature of love and family, of any sort.

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I hope it’s a good yarn and emotionally involving! I like to think that even people who have never been to a grungy basement rock club will enjoy taking the trip vicariously, and that even non-musicians will relate to my fading rock star of a protagonist.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. Good characters and a plot that grows organically out of those characters.

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. I really loved David Hajdu’s “Adrienne Geffel.” Hajdu is an award-winning music writer and this is his comic novel sending up the whole musician/criticism world. Hilarious. As far as themes go, I’ve always appreciated how Valerie Martin makes unlikable characters sympathetic – and I love how Hilary Mantel makes the past feel contemporary.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. A book has to stand on its own as a work of art. That means it should hit on all levels, but also that it shouldn’t be a tool in a larger agenda.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I want to keep stretching. I want to improve my writing.

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise?

A. I write pretty fast but then I have to revise extensively. I wish I didn’t but whenever I read my first few drafts, I realize that I’ve left too much in my head and not put it on the page.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. Do the work. Writer. Re-read. Find readers. Revise. Do it again. Set it aside. Do it again. Do. The. Work.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?

A. I’d love for my work to be optioned, but then it wouldn’t be my book. I’d love the money and exposure, though!

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I’m working on two very different projects now. One is drafted, so I’ve put it aside to re-read later. The other I’m still drafting.

Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

A. I went to high school with a serial killer, Joel Rifkin. I have never been tempted to write about him, though, despite my brother-in-law’s urging.

Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?

A. I feel like I should warn readers that HOLD ME DOWN is very different from my cat cozies. I adore those and hope to return to them, but I don’t want anyone to be taken aback or feel deceived!

My website page has more info on the books, including links to outlets, including indie bookstores (Indie Bound): 

Sunday, October 17, 2021

A Great Outdoor Event

Well, after the last two years of hunkering down, we finally had a terrific outdoor event to sell books! 

We were part of Art on the Brook in downtown Chelmsford. Lots of local vendors hawking wares. 

First off, it was a perfect Fall day- warm and pleasant. We couldn't have got any better.

We had a steady stream of book buyers, met some new fans, and made connections.

So here's my setup:

And my fellow authoresses: Kameryn James and Sara Marks

We were visited by fellow SIPA member Laura Fedolfi

Many thanks to the volunteers and to The Shack coffeeshop for sponsoring.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Upcoming events

Hello again- things are heating up for October, with many events coming up. 

My latest story, The Trouble, appeared in Northern Frights:

We'll have an interview with author Clea Simon, to celebrate her latest book. 

Then I'll be appearing on the The Future of Now Radio podcast of Bonnie Graham, speaking on: "The Future of Mystery Writers vs TV Detective Series," with fellow authors Connie Johnson Hambley, Gabriel Valjan, and Joanna Schaffhausen

Then we'll have a LIVE bookselling event at the Art on the Brook.

Saturday, October 16, at 11 AM – 4 PM

24 Central Sq, Chelmsford, MA 

And the next day, a Boston Book Festival panel, with fellow authors Stephen Rogers, Joanna Schaffhausen again, and Sarah Smith.

On Monday Oct 18th, our special guest for the Tewksbury Writer's Night Out is author Rich Feitelberg, who will talk about world-building for fiction.

On Saturday, Oct 23rd, I'll be giving a pair of workshops for the NH Writer's Project Conference

I'll be speaking on Indie Publishing: How to Survive and Thrive.

And on Halloween, to close out the month, I'll be on a panel for the Concord Festival of Authors with fellow authors Sarah Smith (again),  Kate Flora, and Susan Oleksiw

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Books in Boothbay 2021

 We had a great day at the Books in Boothbay (Maine) Festival this weekend. A perfect day for weather, book buyers, authors, and the bookstore selling our books, Sherman's

A good crowd came out to shop for new reads...

Saw authors I've met at other events, like Kate Flora

And Barbara Ross, who used to be a local here.

Dick Cass

BJ Magnani

Sandra Manning

And the whole Eddie Vincent gang from Encircle Publications

Richard Cass

BJ Magnani 

S. Lee Manning

Anne Britting Oleson

Matt Cost

Kevin St. Jarre

Lara Tupper

Also a few folks new to me, like Caitlin Wahrer and her mum

Danielle Bannister

William Chanler

Hilary Bartlett

Glad to have this great event back in business. 

Thanks to all the staff who made this happen, and to our shoppers! 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Learning Event

We had a great learning event hosted by the New England chapter of the Sisters in Crime.

What did we learn? How to use Tik Tok- hope fully for book promotion, not just entertainment. 

The class was taught by Kim Shapiro, who walked us through the basics, and explained why this could be useful for writers. 

It was held under a tent at the Sturbridge Publick House, and though hot, we had plenty of fans. 

Prolific author Edith Maxwell greets us.
For an interview with Edith, click here.

Nicole Asselin and Lisa Lieberman, not really waiting for the bar to open.
For a post about Nicole's debut, click here

Lisa is regrettably leaving us for the Chicago area. She'll be missed! 

Arlene Kay here, waiting for us to start.
For an interview with Arlene, click here

About to begin...

One gang of troublemakers- Judy Copek, Christine, Mo Walsh, and Nicole.

Hans Copek joins them.

A great time, and good information which means more work, but hopefully more sales.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Great Local Bookstore- Valley Wild Books

 Hello all you book lovers. There's a local bookstore I have to tell you about.

Valley Wild Books in Littleton, MA, is a great place, with used and new books- over 60,000 of them in a huge, roomy space, perfect for browsing. 

They also have records, tapes, CDs, and videos for those inclined to other media. 

Andrew Marciello is the genial owner, found at his station behind a mountain of books. 

Best part? They love and support local authors and the local community! 

We talked of many of my friends, whose volumes they stock. 

You can find out more about them on their Facebook page,

or just make the trip to the Littleton Common and stock up on reading material! 

You'll love the selection and the prices. 

They're having a big Teacher Appreciation Weekend, so check it out! Saturday and Sunday. 

Teacher friends stop by Valley Wild Books on August 14th and 15th!! 

They'll have bins with free books for local teachers and educators to stock their classrooms and libraries! 

They have board books through young adult and even some for teachers.

They will also have buy one get one 1/2 off all other kids and young adult books throughout the weekend.

(It also happens to be tax free weekend in Massachusetts so come take advantage!!)