Finding a Publisher

I’m writing a short story regarding a miracle that occurred in my own kitchen back in the cataclysmic year of 1968, called The Miracle.

It was the bloodiest year in the Vietnam War thus far, and Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, and Apollo 8 orbited the moon for the first time that Christmas Eve, exactly the time of my divine event.

It’s a six thousand word short story and I’ve done some searching for publishing opportunities. I’ve come up with only one thus far.

It’s fictional story but based on the truth. So if anyone has any suggestions for such a piece, please let me know.


Well Heeled An Emily’s Place Mystery

51tKXwGTGSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_A few weeks ago, Roz Siegel, one of our Sisters In Crime (the group from which this blog arose), gave us a preview of the first chapter of her new novel, Well Heeled. It was so funny and witty it had me  pacing the floor in anticipation of the rest. Now, that I’ve read the entire novel, available on Amazon, I can truly say the pacing was worth it.

If Emily’s Place existed in reality on Manhattan’s Upper East Side instead of in fiction on its Upper West Side, I’d certainly be a customer. Not only for the great deals on Manolo’s, Jimmy Choo’s and Louboutin’s but to chat with Emily herself. Siegel has captured the spirit of her protagonist and her neighborhood and brought it to life. I could easily visualize Emily stocking the shelves, dealing with her customers and walking along its brownstone-lined blocks.

The cast of colorful characters that inhabit the novel are just that—a variety of West Side  characters who patronize her store looking for bargains or just stop by for a cup of coffee. When one of them, Sophia Sarfatti, a long time customer, complains about her shoe being uncomfortable, Emily looks into it and finds a fistful of diamonds secreted in the heel. When Sophia turns up dead and things begin to heat up.

The shoes were a find for Emily who bought them for a good price from a neighborhood kid who got them when they “fell off a truck.” As things progress, Emily scrambles to get back the other pairs she’s sold. As she does, she becomes involved with the Italian mafia, the Russian mob and several neighborhood pals, any one of whom could be a murderer. The only saving grace is that all this running around puts her in the path of Murphy the Cop, who she met when she helped him nab a killer and would definitely like to get to know better.

Well Heeled is the second book in Roz’s Emily’s Place Mystery series following Goodie One Shoe, but can be read as a stand alone. And, I for one, am tapping my foot as I type this, impatient for Emily to step out again.


Fidelity or Adultery? That is the Question

bed_frameI’ve come to a definite conclusion about the things I read and watch of late.  I find I’ve become increasingly uninterested in plots that include infidelity in a marriage. It seems so easy to me for characters to forget promises they’ve made and loyalty to a spouse to enjoy the secrecy and intrigue of adultery. The marriage bed is no longer sacred.

I know this happens in real life. My husband and I were part of a group of eight couples when we were newlyweds. Before we moved away from our hometown, there was only one other couple besides us still together. Nearly all of these marriages ended with adultery. One husband engaged in a work-place romance. Another friend lost her husband to her best friend. With another, the affair was between two men. I’m not foolish enough to think it never happens, but I am tired of seeing it as a gratuitous sex on the screen and between the pages.

I’ve been wondering if other people feel the same way. One thing I enjoy about murder mysteries is while the crime is often about passion, it can be passion about anything, not just love and sex.

I still enjoy romance novels, and I love the many mystery series I read. While John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport was a real lady’s man when he was single, he hasn’t been unfaithful to Weather since they married. Eve Dallas and Roarke value each other and their commitment too much to consider infidelity. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser adores Susan even though they have never married.

I also know I can choose the “hotness” of the books I read, but I’ve always enjoyed a variety of genres and books. I’m just tired of seeing adultery as a key plot element.

Anybody else thinking this way?

How Do You Do It?

Okay, I’m in the middle of writing a short story, and a new novel, while setting up dates for talks for Broken Window, released March 1.

The novel will be the third in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series and the short story I’ve wanted to write for years, it’s about a religious experience, a miracle; I find myself writing in the middle of the night.

With a large family, events often take place all at the one time, we just had a baby shower and house guests for five days, which I loved, more family coming next month, can’t wait. I also sing in a serious church choir where composers Handel, Haydn, Bach, and Mozart often supply the music– and demand a great deal of practice.

Singing, like writing, is a must.

At the moment, I’m setting dates to travel to other states, during the summer to visit family while I do library talks. Then there’s working out, cooking and the usual domestic stuff that takes time, and energy.

Yesterday, I suffered some mind-boggling fatigue and didn’t want to talk to anyone–including myself; writing in the middle of the night will do that to you; it’s the agony and the ecstasy.

Today, having caught up on sleep, I’m happy to say, it’s bright in my little brain even though it’s chilly and rainy outside. I’m feeling more myself.

How do you do it?



On A Story That Has A Murder and Other Thoughts

After she read my first mystery novel, my agent at the time chastised me because I waited too deep into the book before I killed my victim. Do it right in the beginning was her command. So, even though I disagreed with her advice, when I started the next book I killed my victim in the first sentence.

All of this was running back through my mind as I read Laurie R. King’s newest book in the Mary Russell – Sherlock Holmes series, Dreaming Spies.

King kills her victim on page 214. Bravo, I thought. You must have a very understanding agent.

King started the Russell-Holmes series in 1994 with the publication of The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I had picked up the first book because its Holmes connection caught my eye. Authors’ writing newly discovered fiction about Sherlock Holmes remains a popular pastime. The writer just happens to find an old manuscript, which lo and behold, is a lost story about a previously unknown case involving the famous detective or Dr. Watson or even brother Mycroft. If you know of one where Mrs. Hudson solves the crime, let me know.


His creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, is dead, but new stories continue to be written about Sherlock Holmes, the detective he made world famous.

King’s new take on the old tale is that Sherlock Holmes should get married, and she marries him off to Mary Russell, a woman whom he meets in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice when she is a fifteen year old schoolgirl and he is in his fifties. They wed in the second book in the series.

Mary Russell is a thoroughly modern twentieth century woman. I like strong female heroines, but I’ve chosen not to write stories with women solving crimes in anything but contemporary times.

I admire feisty women, but I don’t like when their feistiness takes over the story which tends to happen when their character is living in earlier times. Women were always fighting gender prejudice. Any demonstrations of their intelligence and analytical abilities often met with scorn.

In the King books Mary Russell, who takes center stage in front of Sherlock Holmes, manages to use her mind and challenge the establishment, all without becoming irritatingly predictable when she does. Mary is not an easy character to pull off, but I think King does her well.

What I also enjoy in the Russell-Holmes novels, which now number fourteen, is their attention to setting. These stories take the reader all over the world, including some very exotic destinations.

Setting, in my humble view, is a very underrated component in mystery books. Mystery authors must have a plot which results in a crime. Characters become the victims and suspects. Where the story is set is important, but rarely dominates the book.

Dreaming Spies, after a preamble, kicks off on an ocean voyage from India to Japan where Holmes and Russell (they call each other by their last names) are going for a much-needed rest. Their cases tend to put them regularly in physical danger, and believe me, they need this rest.

Naturally the novel wouldn’t have been written if all the couple gets is a quiet vacation at sea and no case to solve. But what I appreciated, as noted earlier, is the long wait to get to the murder and the ‘let’s get busy solving this crime’ action which must ensue.

As the story of Dreaming Spies unfolds, King supplies us with rich and languid descriptions of the oceanic steamship, the rhythm of the voyage and Mary’s reflections. The culture of their final destination, Japan, is nicely explained through one of the main characters. I learned a lot about a country I’ve never visited.

I once heard a panelist at a mystery writers’ conference say that today’s trend is not to write a book about a murder, but to write a story where a murder takes place. After reading Dreaming Spies, I can appreciate the difference.

Here and There on the Internet

Mangeot giveaway


If you are interested in a chance to win a signed copy of the April (signed by me) and the May (signed by Robert Mangeot) issues of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine click on through to Robert’s Facebook page and message him. You can say “Hi” or “Hitchcock” or “Taxes”, whatever and your entry will be valid. Just let him know of your interest by 7 pm central time tonight for a chance to win. If you are not on Facebook you can comment on Bob’s website. As a last resort, you can leave a comment on this post but you really should visit Bob’s website to read his hilarious explanation of how this giveaway came to be.

WellRead_2Once you’ve entered and are sitting around strumming your fingers on the arm of your chair waiting to find out if you won, I have something else that can fill in your time.

The fabulous and prolific writer B. K. Stevens, author of the newly released Interpretation of Murder, has begun a blog called The First Two Pages. She invites writers to talk about the first two pages of the project of their choice and lucky duck that I am, this is my week.

Click on over to visit the blog and I’ll tell you how the first two pages of Well Read, Then Dead morphed from not bad to so much better.

See you around the internet.


Crime Poetry at The Five-Two

April is National Poetry Month, and to help celebrate, the Women of Mystery (along with several blog pals) are participating in the “30 Days of the 5-2″ Blog Tour.

5-2 Tour Badge

Since 2011, “The 5-2: Crime Poetry Weekly,” has been expertly edited by Gerald So (and an occasional guest editor), in which an original poem (in text and audio/video) is published each Monday. Submissions of poems (crime-related, or the poet’s reaction to what he or she sees as crime), 60 lines or fewer per poem (any form or style) are open year-round. The 5-2 seeks original, unpublished work only. Read the complete submission guidelines for further information.

One of my favorite poems on The Five-Two is hot off the presses. Just published on April 13, this poem by A.J. Huffman is right up my alley; in that, I mean, it is inspired by a true story. I tend to write stories that are based on reality (which, as we all know, is certainly stranger than fiction).


A PA moron, I mean man, was jailed
for stalking
a woman he thought was his ex wife.
He was mistaken
about the kids too. The woman’s real
husband gave a statement: he used to be
friends with the man who was
never married to his wife. The gifts
left on their porch for the woman
and imaginary children were taken
into evidence.


Follow Crime Poetry Weekly on Twitter @poemsoncrime.

If you are active on Twitter and would like to help promote The 5-2 Blog Tour this month, use the hashtag #30OfThe52.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Message Taken

Every so often the universe sends us a message.

I don’t believe that literally, not at all, but it can be a useful metaphor. In times of difficulty, what are we “supposed” to learn from this? In times of indecision, what points the way? The way might be just what we intended to do, but “the sign” helps us take the next step.

So. I was doing substantial revision on the climactic chapters of Brooklyn Secrets, my next book, per the editors request. She was entirely right; I needed to amp up those chapters. And of course I was thoroughly tired of this book by then. Eventually I will love it again, but I wasn’t loving it at the moment. At these times, an author’s thoughts sometimes turn to the next next book, the one that’s new and exciting, filled with infinite possibilities. Right?

So. All my books have both a modern crime and an old mystery involving some interesting place and time in Brooklyn’s past. I was toying with the idea of using the Brooklyn Navy Yard in World War II for the next book. It was a monster of productivity, operating 24/7. It brought thousands of newcomers to live in Brooklyn and work there. Ship

And the property is now a huge, mostly neglected chunk of real estate in a rapidly redeveloping part of the borough. Plus there is the bonus of some lovely,spooky 19th century homes.


So. There I was in the audience for the new Broadway production of On the Town. It had wonderful reviews and it’s Bernstein music and Comden-Green lyrics. It was inspired by a Jerome Robbins ballet, so you know it’s a show that dances as well as it sings. A story of three sailors on a 24 hour pass, and what they find in the big city, it explodes in the beginning with “New York, New York, a helluva town.” I loved it.

So. The show opened with dim, crack-of-dawn stage lighting, a line of weary people waiting in the dark in front of a closed gate,ready to start another long day of work. One sings softly of being up with a baby. One keeps asking “What time is it?” and getting the answer “It’s still five to six.”

When the answer becomes “Six o’clock!” the scene snaps to life, with light, color and activity,the workers hurrying through the gate in one direction while the sailors run out in the other, excited to begin their brief shore leave. And so the story begins.

Not one moment of the story is believable, and who cares? It was written in wartime and people wanted to laugh. The silliness is very funny and yet it captures something real and touching about this time and this place. The desperate-for-a-man woman cab driver, who keeps singing, “Come Up to My Place.” The hilarious scene at the studios of Carnegie Hall, a masterpiece of farce, with doors opening and closing in mini-dramas. Carnegie

And then the wistful ensemble song when the sailors must return to their ship:

“Just when the fun’s beginning,
Comes the final inning…

Haven’t had time to wake up,
Seeing you there without your make-up.”

“There’s so much more embracing
Still to be done, but time is racing.
Oh, well, we’ll catch up
Some other time. “

And this is what I saw on the stage just as the lights came on. Note the sign in the back. Message received.

The Missing Piece by Kevin Egan


You may recall it was not that long ago I was raving about how much I enjoyed  the legal thriller Midnight by Kevin Egan. Well I am delighted to tell you that with The Missing Piece, Egan has surpassed his own excellence.

Set in the fabled and fabulously ornate courthouse known as 60 Centre Street, Egan weaves a story about  legal wrangling and ancient treasure. That’s right, a piece of ancient treasure goes missing from a New York City courtroom and is never seen again.

And apart from the mystery of the treasure, the interpersonal relationships of the characters will keep you turning  page after page.

Click here to read my post praising The Missing Piece on Criminal Element.


Elvis is in the Building

WebbElvis is back, and he’s on the case. In the seventh book of her series about Elvis the bloodhound, Peggy Webb has another great cozy mystery. Elvis and the Buried Brides has the Valentine girls, Callie and Lovie, getting ready for the big renewal of vows for Callie and Jack.

Elvis is beyond thrilled to know that his human parents are finally getting back together. Though Callie and Jack have been separated for quite awhile, neither of them ever felt motivated enough to sign the divorce papers. However, everything is topsy-turvy when Callie and Lovie don’t show up at the church.

Peggy has another winner with this little book, and there’s a bonus short story included too. Southern humor abounds in this series, and it’s always enjoyable. From Fayrene’s bad case of malapropism to the antics of Callie’s salon customer, these characters become old friends in no time.

Fayrene trots over to me, wearing so many green sequins I’m nearly blinded.

“We’re headed home, Callie, but I want you to know I’ve got everything ready for your wedding deception.”

“I’ve got his favorite German chocolate cake and Jarvetis had such good luck on his hunting trip to Missouri I’m serving peasants under glass.”

Thank goodness I’m not eating a second helping of the red velvet cake Lovie is handing out to department guests, or I might choke to death trying to hold in laughter.

Mama prances up and gives me a big hug. “I’m so happy I’m about to die!”

“Ruby Nell Valentine, wash your mouth out with soap!” Fayrene says. “The mere thought of another death at a wedding makes me want to fall into heart dropsy on my sexual sofa.”

“Flitter, Fayrene. I was just kidding around.” Mama puffs up her hair that doesn’t need a thing, thanks to my expertise with scissors and blow dryer. “What do you think about my hair, Cal?”

“You know perfectly well what I think about your hair, Mama. It’s gorgeous, even if I do say so myself.”

The Valentine ladies are always in a mess, but, thank goodness Elvis is there is sniff out the problem. This book will stand alone, but I think you’ll enjoy it more if you read the entire series.