"You do not want to miss Bliss House. It's a compulsively readable tour de force from a wonderful writer. I couldn't put it down."
— J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of WHAT LIES BEHIND
Winter has finally arrived in all its frigid glory here in the southernmost part of my Midwestern state. When I took the dogs out this morning, there was a dusting of snow and it was 14 degrees. But the weather folks said it felt like -1. And it definitely did. The dogs and I were all happy to get back inside to our breakfasts.
Did you make any big resolutions for the New Year? I have some goals that I've set. One big challenge I have is balancing work, family time, and exercise. I adore my job, but I find that with every book, I let my health and exercise slip a bit. (It may be part of my ADD—when my concentration is seriously engaged, I get focused on one single thing, and other things are often neglected.) So for the next two months I'm making sure I get at least twenty minutes a day of some kind of exercise, and have started with daily yoga to get my flexibility back. Baby steps...
I spend my Januarys and Februarys writing (last year it was Charlotte's Story, and this year, it's The Abandoned Heart—both Bliss House books) so my news is usually pretty scarce, but I have two fun things to share this month. One is a very special free story!
My first big short story publication was with Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, the world's longest-running mystery magazine. I'd never written a mystery story before, but the fact that they liked it and bought it opened up a world of opportunity for me. While I was in Raleigh for Bouchercon, the world mystery convention, Janet Hutchings, EQMM's Editor, had me record my story, The Erstwhile Groom, for their podcast series. Listen online or download it and take me with you in the car, or to the gym. Whatever you choose, it's absolutely free.
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of lists. So here's one that makes me doubly glad: Crimespree Magazine is an award winning magazine dedicated to all things crime fiction, with interviews, articles, and reviews of books, DVDs, films, and even comics. Every year, their reviewers list their favorite books of the year, and I'm thrilled to tell you that they named Charlotte's Story as one of Crimespree's favorite reads of 2015! I'm particularly chuffed because I take the crimes in my books very seriously. Every one of my stories—even if it has elements of the supernatural—has a crime mystery at its heart. Thanks, Crimespree!
Around My House
Don't you love it when people remember your birthday? I know that I do. But while I usually remember people's birthdays, I often forget to put a card in the mail on time. A perpetual calendar was high on my Christmas list, and I was so glad to find one with paintings from the National Gallery of Art under our tree with my name on it. Now it lives right by my desk. No excuses, right?
Out and About
The only distance I'm going this winter is about 500 feet to the end of my driveway and back to get some fresh air in between editing pages of The Abandoned Heart, my next Bliss House novel. I did take a couple of days around New Year's to get away to a super secret location so I could get a big jump on my edits. Here's a mysterious photo of an old bridge—I love the winter colors I saw on my walks.
Congratulations to Kim P. of San Francisco who won my special December prize of two signed copies of Bliss House (one for her, one for a friend) and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Speaking of New Year plans, stop by my website to enter my January contest to enter to win a new 2016 planner (for all your plans!) and a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Stay cozy, but remember to get out and breathe, breathe, breathe. Read lots, and when you're done reading, be sure to drop by an online review site like Goodreads or Library Thing, or a bookstore website like Barnes and Noble or Amazon, and leave reviews for your favorite authors. We all appreciate it so very much, and it really helps to spread the word.
Here's a thought to go forward: "The minute you feel negative, do something positive." —Dr. Laura
The Maypole is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Europe, and continues to be the centerpiece of many May Day celebrations. No one knows quite where it first began, but many trace it to early Germanic or Druidic pagan cultures. It is a tall pole, usually wooden, erected for use on May Day (May 1st), and topped with a garland of fresh spring flowers. Streamers of various colors are also attached to the top of the pole, and are carried by dancers participating the Maypole Dance. The dancers weave the streamers as they dance to form colorful patterns, then dance in the opposite direction to unwind them. Traditionally, music is provided by fiddle, pipe, and tambourine players.