Charles Dickens and Me

In London, Charles Dickens’ desk was part of the guided tour. It was remarkably small, like a workstation. Solid, dark, aged, but small.

The tour guide revealed that Mr. Dickens’ stories and his characters were all based on real life. Another shocker for his plots were unexpected.

Most of us do write about what we know. Tolstoy too wrote of real live characters, sometimes he only changed the first letter of a name, a biographer proved.

Back to the desk. I’m sitting at a narrow desk that bites my chins. A bottom shelf runs across it and my chins rest on the shelf. I’ve had slight bruises and scratches. The desk is smaller than a library carrel. Sitting not far from the wall, it traps me when I slide behind it, and when I escape, that’s when most of the accidents happen. So I bought a new desk online. It’ll give me ten more inches on both sides, and couple in the width; it will be a tad larger than Dickens, but not that much.

Most of all, my new desk has no shelf, so my chins will be liberated; it’s a tale of two chins, sorry couldn’t help myself. The desk is a hundred pounds so it won’t wobble. Mr. Dickens’ desk was solid, no wobbling there.

How about you? Where do you write?



Barnes & Noble and Me


I am delighted to announce that I will be speaking about my cozy mystery Well Read, Then Dead  at 7 pm on Wednesday evening September 17, 2014 at the Barnes & Noble located at 176-60 Union Turnpike across from St. John’s University in Fresh Meadows, Queens, New York. If you are in the neighborhood, come on down. There will be prizes!

Actually, I am not the first to spread the word about my Barnes & Noble debut. Apparently there was a big advertisement of B&N events for the month of September in the New York Times and there I was right in the box marked September 17th.

You can find the direct link to my specific event here.

I will try to remember to bring a camera so that when I come back and tell you all about it–and you know I will–hopefully I’ll have some pictures for show and tell.


Enticing Beginnings

“THE PALE, PINK LIGHT OF dawn should have made the familiar house with its weathered grey clapboard and neat white trim appear charming. Welcoming, even. But it didn’t. All Evie felt as she pulled into the driveway was dread, and all she noticed was the darkness of the shadows hiding the deep front porch.

No welcome home light here, though her aunt had known Evie would be arriving overnight.”

Toying with His Affection, by our Laura Curtis.

How can you not read on?

I just finished the book, and was totally entertained by this lovely romance novel.

Can you share some of the best first lines of a recent book you’ve read?

Crimson Forest–Murder with a Twist

I’ve been exploring a new genre with Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel–new adult fantasy. My research has led me to one conclusion–this is not a genre for me. Designed for ages 17-25, these books explore a demographic I have absolutely no connection with and no access to immediate research. My own children are well past these ages, and, thank goodness, my grandchildren are nowhere near it.

GabrielStill, that doesn’t mean I haven’t done some good reading and discovered some authors with great potential. Crimson Forest by Christine Gabriel is a wonderful fantasy with a well-developed murder plot at its heart. It’s the first book of The Crimson Chronicles and is out today!

Angelina Adams is a relatively happy 17-year-old girl looking forward to her birthday. She helps her mother run a small bed and breakfast in Buffalo, Wisconsin. Not only is Buffalo known for the hunters who gather there to stalk the many white-tailed deer who occupy the forest, they also come to see the mysterious crimson moss that covers virtually everything in the forest.

The strange, soft red plant has been studied by scientists, environmentalists, and the hordes of tourist who invade the small town just to view it. Some even speculated it was evidence of the blood of the deer spilled by so many hunters.

Her young life has been marred by the disappearance of her father on her twelfth birthday. That event makes birthdays less-than-happy events since they’ve never received any further word on her father. No notice of death and no idea what happened in the mysterious forest with the strange red moss.

Angelina and her best bud, Jeremiah, are fighting their usual battle deciding if what they feel for each other is brotherly/sisterly love or a budding romance between two childhood friends. Before he leaves, however, Jeremiah warns Angelina once again to stay out of the forest. He won’t tell her what he saw there, but it’s obvious he’s truly frightened.

After finishing errands for her mother, Angelina is in her bedroom in the east wing of the B&B. She receives a text message that says, Go to the forest. You’ll be safe there. followed by Get out now.

When her mother’s scream rings through the house, Angelina knows she must obey the strange text and she heads for forbidden and frightening Crimson Forest in hopes of getting away from the people who are killing her mother.

This begins the fantasy portion of the books as Angelina meets new people find the course of her life was charted long before she was born, and many of the people she meets already know her and her special abilities.

Gabriel keeps the action and the story moving well. She has built a credible and believable fantasy world that lives on the edge of the real world. It’s an interesting and entertaining read. If you appreciate this kind of book, you’ll enjoy Crimson Forest.

Christine in WeedsChristine Gabriel, a diehard Buckeye fan, lives in Ohio with her children whom she says have become her biggest fans and most honest critics. Christine loves to connect with her readers on Facebook and on her blog at

Going back to the New Adult genre, have any of you decided to write these books, whose popularity seems to be growing daily? Do you find this age group works well with typical murder mysteries or better with the fantasy/paranormal element?





This Day, Then. Sept 12.

I put my name up for the September 12 blog post, with my mind entirely set on finding a second date in the month, an even busier than usual September this year. I didn’t, then, have a particular topic in mind.

It wasn’t until this morning – I am writing on September 11 – that I saw what I had done. Facebook is full of memories, and I added some of mine. And then realized I had written my blog.

So here it is, from New York though not from Ground Zero. Feel free to add yours.

I walked out of the elevator at my office – in mid-town New York- to see people gathered around a reception area tv. A plane had hit the World Trade Center and I thought, “Those idiot amateur pilots.” And then I watched the second plane hit. SEPT 11

Instantly, we were getting email from our offices in Europe. My particular section had had a meeting in June, in NY, with our London colleagues. Dinner was at the Windows on the World. True.

My husband was on his way to work, and his subway was elevated, looking right out over the harbor, Statue of Liberty and all. He was lost in his book when the train stopped, the conductor came out to announce what had happened and he finally looked up. To see the sky filled with debris. WTC

Later that day, I walked out into an eerily silent, empty midtown on the most surreally beautiful fall day.

Sept 12, the date you are reading this, the very first e-mail we had at home was from someone we had met in Scotland in August. (Another whole story. A Scottish comic book artist! Living in the remote Orkney Islands! Who had worked with people in NY my husband also worked with!) And he was asking if we were all right.

We did not lose home, loved ones, job, health that day, and so many people did, our neighbors whether we knew them or not. I try not to dramatize my lesser experiences – it seems disrespectful. mem2

But no one who was in New York will ever, ever forget that day.

Literary Trivia

jpg_5840_Royalty_Free_Clip_Art_Surprised_Brain_Cartoon_Character_Reading_A_Book_With_Question_MarkOn, Erin LaRosa compiled a list of “20 Literary Facts to Impress Your Friends With.” Of the 20 facts of literary trivia, I only knew about five; I love learning something new every day!

TriviaPlaza has a quiz, “Literary Detectives and Their Authors.” (The average score is 6.46; I got an 8). Other trivia-plaza-quiz-logogeneral literature quizzes include: “Female Title Characters,” “Pen Names and Authors,” and “Book Opening Lines.” (Haven’t tried those yet.)

logo-for-facebook trivia bug

If you’re up for a lengthy challenge, Triviabug has 275 questions on their Literature Quiz. (If I start it, I’ll never finish this post!)


If you’ve never visited Arts & Letters Daily ~ you’re missing a great opportunity to learn many literary tidbits. New material is added six days a week. Check out this gem, which is linked to the original feature, “The Great Quietness of Eudora Welty,” written by Danny Heitman, at Humanities (The Magazine of the National Endowment of Humanities), March/April 2014:

“Eudora Welty had a simple explanation for her popularity as a speaker: ‘I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.'”


Another site, NewPages, is a wealth of information for writers, readers, and editors, when it comes to Blogs and Daily News Sites.


If you visit any or all of the quiz sites, let us know how you did. Have fun, & good luck!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Family Matters: Murder New York Style launches today

If you thought your relatives were bad news, wait until you meet the relatives in the new Sisters in Crime anthology, Family Matters: Murder New York Style.

Family-Matters-198x300Launching today, Family Matters, edited by Anita Page, includes short stories by 20 members of the New York/Tri State chapter of SinC. And, oh what tales these writers tell.

From the New York City Marathon to a secret cellar in Queens; from the hard life of Immigrant culture to the moneyed world of art; from brutality and poverty to privilege, these New York families face crime in all its forms. It’s a deadly combination fueled by all the usual suspects: jealousy, greed, rage, revenge and more—you know—the stuff New Yorkers die for.

Family Matters: Murder New York Style, is the third mystery anthology in the series.

dd_eBook-198x300-GPIn Deadly Debut, the first in the series, you’ll encounter twisted tales of New York’s dark and dramatic underbelly. From a Brooklyn nanny’s street smarts to a small grocer’s grit, from a nightclub’s belly dancers to a P.I. reared on jive, the characters in these mysteries will have you cheering.

Fresh Slices, the second in the series, is filed with heaping helpings of New York attitude from rich and poor neighborhoods where old-timers desperately protect their secrets to brand-new arrivals who indulge dangerous appetites. 7-28_fs_eBook198w

Both are also available in new e-book editions from Glenmere Press.

So why not hit the streets of New York with this talented group of writers. Order your copy of Family Matters at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, or Kobo.

Or stop by the Sisters in Crime booth, #116,  at the Brooklyn Book Festival on Sunday, September 21st and pick up your copy in person. Many of the authors will be there and will be happy to sign your copy for you.

Dear Reader and Chocolates

Just as Well Read, Then Dead was released last month,  our own Laura K. Curtis sent me a copy of the fan newsletter that Berkley sends out each month listing the new releases and it included the monthly Dear Reader letter written by—me!! I was delighted to have been chosen and thrilled to see the letter in print  but could never find a link so that I could share the letter with all of you. Finally last week someone sent me the direct link. Just click here.

And who was that fabulous person who provided my missing link? None other than Kathy Aarons, author of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates.


One good turn deserves another so after you read my letter (now that I have provided the link) why not read Kathy’s very entertaining book which I talked about on Criminal Element  a few days ago.