Jazzy Poetry and Poetic Jazz

April is National Jazz Appreciation Month and National Poetry Month. Poetry and Jazz Night at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center will take place on Saturday, April 11 with The Norwalk Public Library in celebration.

Local officials, writers and readers will read from their favorite poem, either an original or just one that is beloved. Interspersed with the poetry Neddy Smith and his trio will be playing some classic jazz pieces.

I’m delighted to recite an excerpt from one of my favorite poems by Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol–it’s about murder, need I say more?

Needy Smith

Needy Smith

Jam! Join the Fun!
6 to 9 PM, Saturday April 11th
The Norwalk Inn 
99 East Ave Norwalk, CT 06851.
The night is open to all. Just a $10 donation to The Norwalk Public Library is all the ticket you need to share a Norwalk night of Jazzy Poetry and Poetic Jazz.

FAVE RAVES “Dust to Dust”

cover_LizardsArdent_525wIn earlier posts I have mentioned the late poet and writer Kyle J. Knapp who was the creative young nephew of Beat to a Pulp publisher David Cranmer. In remembrance of Kyle, Beat to A Pulp released the first anthology of stories that were written based on snippets of Kyle’s dreams. It is called The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform and includes the following stories:

The Lizard’s Ardent Uniform — Chris F. Holm
Dust to Dust — Terrie Farley Moran
Twin Talk — Patti Abbott
The Malignant Reality — Evan V. Corder (including “The Needles” poem by Kyle J. Knapp)
Ghosts in the Fog — Steve Weddle
The Debt — Hilary Davidson
The Zygma Gambit — Garnett Elliott

I am delighted to announce that in the winter edition of Mystery Scene Magazine under the Fave Raves for 2014, Bill Crider has selected “Dust to Dust” as one of four Faves. You can read more about the Lizard’s Ardent Uniform here.  And if you would like to read “Dust to Dust” you may do so here. And of course we encourage you to purchase The Lizard’s Ardent Uniforma portion of the profits go to higher education.


Forget Pi Day, it’s what writers do Every Day!

Let’s play a game, shall we, you doomed-to-be creative types?

Tell me whether you can get through these events and items related to today’s date, 3/25, without even a tiny, unwelcome twinge of curiosity, or even worse, an idea. *shudders*

ConstantineIn the Julian Calendar, 325 (C.E.) was known as the Year of the Consulship of Proculus and Paulinus. It marked the year of the Council of Nicea, the beginning of the colossal marble head of Constantine, and the outlawing of gladiatorial combat in the Roman Empire.


PercocetThe prescription narcotic painkiller Percocet comes in a popular 325-stamped dose.




lennon-325John Lennon’s early guitar is an oft-discussed Rickenbacker 325, an unusual model nicknamed the “Hamburg,” because that’s where he got it.



Donald_WestlakeThere are new Seattle lofts under development at 325 Westlake, an address which can’t fail to remind me of one of my favorite authors, a crime-writing Grand Master who wrote “I believe my subject is bewilderment. But I could be wrong.”



Bobcat-325Bobcat makes a 325 Compact Excavator, designed for tight spaces, which “with its multi-attachment versatility, can dig everything from trenches to postholes, break up concrete and carve landscape features. Its compact size and rubber track flotation allows you to have excellent flotation through mud….”


bmw-325Who could forget BMW’s famous and very fast 325?




Winchester-325Or Winchester‘s?




USS-LST-325USS LST-325 is the designation for a tank landing ship (acronymed as landing ship, tank) launched in October, 1942. She participated in D-Day at Omaha Beach, Normandy, also the invasion of Sicily and Salerno in 1943. Surprisingly, she served for decades more as part of the Greek Navy, and now docks in Evansville, Indiana as a museum that still sails!


In addition, March 25th in history saw:

  • the founding of Venice
  • the first horse race in America
  • Sicily’s Mt Etna erupting
  • Sputnik carrying a dog into orbit
  • Cagney & Lacey’s TV premiere
  • the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
  • Elton John and Gloria Steinem and Jack Ruby born
  • the Boston Patriots becoming the New England Patriots (you know I had to mention!)
  • the Supreme Court’s ruling against “poll taxes”
  • the Great Dayton Flood
  • the first modern Olympics in Athens
  • Robert the Bruce’s crowning as King of Scots

How did you do? Most authors I know laugh, maniacally even, when people say they’ll supply a goldmine of an idea and all the writer has to do is execute it. Most writers don’t have any problem with getting ideas–they have much more trouble making them stop.

If you read this calmly and placidly with serene disinterest, experiencing not even a flicker of a “what if” crossing your mind, congratulations on having a Wednesday!

But as Flannery O’Connor, also born this day, once said: The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention. So if you couldn’t get through unscathed, well, you have my condolences. You might be a writer.

And All Our Yesterdays

When I wrote my first short mystery story I liked it so much that I turned it into my first Newport mystery novel. For several years after I didn’t attempt another. I was sure I couldn’t limit myself to the 3000 word limit of the average short story.

But as time went on I decided to challenge myself to write a short story. (I also challenged myself to learn Italian about the same time.) The short story project was the more successful of the two, and now I feel very comfortable with the format.

My success in having my short stories accepted came slowly. I got the usual rejections. Cracking Woman’s World has so far proved impossible. But I have some notable publications, including the Murder New York Style anthologies published by the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime.


The cover shows four images relating to four of the stories. Note the woman bottom right wearing the Empress’s pearls.

And now I have a new short story, The Empress’s Pearls, in the historical mystery anthology published this month by Darkhouse Books. The book is And All Our Yesterdays, edited by Andrew MacRae.

When I first learned about the proposed collection, I sifted through my file of story ideas. While I prefer to use contemporary settings, I had recently considered writing a story set during the Russian Revolution. The idea came out of reading The Romanov Sisters, a biography of the four daughters of Tsar Nicholas II and the Empress Alexandra.

The premise seemed ideal for And All Our Yesterdays. More research would be needed, and what writer doesn’t like to do research? I certainly do and happily delved into the Romanovs. I discovered the fascinating archival footage on YouTube posted by Russians devoted to the memory of the last Imperial Family who were murdered by the Bolsheviks.

Empress Alexandra loved jewelry, especially pearls, and always travelled with several cases of jewels.

Empress Alexandra loved jewelry, especially pearls, and always travelled with several cases of jewels.

And The Empress’s Pearls was written, submitted to Darkhouse, and accepted. Andrew is a great editor and gave my story the polish it needed – although we did have one disagreement over my use of the phrase “curiosity and the cat.” He won, so no cats were mentioned in the making of that story.

The stories in And All My Yesterdays, in my own opinion, are outstanding. The first one, set in New England after the Revolution, grabs your interest right away. All are definitely in the category of wish I’d thought of that. There are stories set in medieval England, 14th century France, post war Vienna, the wilds of the Caucasus. Also several in the U.S. over the course of our history including one about Abraham Lincoln as a young man on a Mississippi flatboat. Ingenious.

So my thanks to Andrew MacRae and Darkhouse for publishing this excellent volume.

According to Andrew, “Darkhouse Books realizes a life-long dream to publish stories. The reinvention of publishing over the past ten years has made it possible for micro-presses as mine to publish quality books without having to mortgage the future.”

We’ll be on the lookout for his next story collection.

Best First Novel Agatha Nominees

So as you already know because I shouted from the roof tops, Well Read, Then Dead has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The Awards will be present at the Agatha Banquet which is the highlight of Malice Domestic, the premier conference for traditional and cozy mystery readers and writers.

May I present the Agatha nominees for Best First Novel:

Circle of Influence by Annette Dashofy (Henery Press)

Tagged for Death by Sherry Harris (Kensington Publishing)

Finding Sky by Susan O’Brien (Henery Press)

Well Read, Then Dead by Terrie Farley Moran (Berkley Prime Crime)

Murder Strikes a Pose by Tracy Weber (Midnight Ink)

With all the excitement of the nomination and the banquet, I can assure you these writers are still working hard to produce excellent mystery fiction. And because inquiring minds want to know, we asked the nominees to talk a little bit about the next book in their series.

Circle of Influence Cover FrontHere’s Annette Dashofy, author of Circle of Influence:

“My second book in the Zoe Chambers mystery series, Lost Legacy, came out in September. In it, Zoe responds to a call involving a body hanging from the rafters in a hay barn on a sweltering summer afternoon. What’s worse, Zoe has vague memories of a similar hanging—involving her own family—decades earlier in that same barn. As the story progresses, we learn about a string of mysterious deaths spanning over forty years linked to this recent case, and all have ties to Zoe. The secondary story, however, involves Chief Pete Adams’ father Harry, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, who Pete’s care-giving sister deposits unannounced on his front door so she can take a much needed respite. My own father lived with Alzheimer’s, which is a sad, ugly disease, so I struggled to make Harry “real” yet endearing enough to make readers want to stick with him through the entire book. I borrowed a number of my dad’s quirks, and Harry quickly become very close to my heart. The book is dedicated to my dad’s memory, and I am donating a portion of my royalties from its sale to the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Tagged for Death mech.inddSherry Harris, author of Tagged for Death has still more proof that garage sales can be murder.

“In The Longest Yard Sale my protagonist, Sarah, turns Ellington, Massachusetts, into New England’s largest garage sale for a day. It’s the small town’s biggest event since the start of the Revolutionary War — but without the bloodshed — she hopes. During the garage sale a valuable painting goes missing and the lifeless body of a government employee is found in Carol Carson’s painting studio, his face perfectly framed with the murder weapon—a metal picture frame. Sarah is mad as heck that someone used her town-wide garage sale to commit a crime and frame her good friend Carol. She is definitely on this case, but it’s not easy rummaging through increasingly strange clues that point to a cage fighter, a suspicious town manager and even the mob. Sarah will have to be very careful if she wants to live to bargain another day.”

FINDING SKY front under 2mb-2Susan O’Brien, author of Finding Sky is a little more reticent since she has to wait to hear from her editor, still we are all glad to know that P.I. Dean will still be around for us to ogle, er, read about.

“I can’t say much about book two (Sky High) because I just submitted it to Henery Press, and I’m waiting for my editor’s feedback. I can say, however, that Nicki Valentine is now a full-fledged private investigator, and she’s still involved with her smokin’ hot P.I. colleague Dean. Together, they search for a missing groom who was planning much more than a wedding.”


Murder Strikes Pose full sizeTracy Weber, author of Murder Strikes a Pose has this to say:

“In my second book, A Killer Retreat, yoga teacher Kate Davidson has been given the opportunity to stay at Elysian Springs—a vegan resort on picturesque Orcas Island, Washington—in exchange for teaching yoga to the wedding guests of the center’s two caretakers. The trip seems like a perfect, much-needed vacation until her boyfriend Michael starts hinting that he’s ready to pop the question and her best friend shows up unannounced and hiding a secret. Then there’s the loud, public—and somewhat embarrassing—argument Kate has with Monica, the bride-to-be’s stepmother. When Monica’s body is found floating face-down in the resort’s hot tub, Kate becomes the investigator’s number one suspect. Kate will have to solve Monica’s murder quickly, or her next teaching gig may last a lifetime—behind bars. Of course, Bella will be along too, literally dragging Kate into trouble any chance she gets. It’s a lot of fun.”

WellRead_2And what you ask, will I present as the follow up to Well Read, Then Dead? I’ll tell you:

“Here’s the scoop on Caught Read-Handed. Always happy to lend a hand to her fellow bibliophiles, Sassy visits the Beachside Community Library with a box of book donations for their annual fundraising sale.  Unfortunately, she finds the usually warm and welcoming readers’ haven in turmoil, when a heated argument erupts between one of the patrons and  Tanya Lipscome, a new volunteer – also known as “Tanya Trouble” — who isn’t exactly known for her people skills, but the community is shocked when she’s later found murdered in her own hot tub.

The man last seen arguing with the victim was Alan Mersky, who also happens to be the brother of Sassy’s former boss.  He’s soon arrested, but while the veteran suffers from PTSD, he’s no murderer. Now it’s up to Sassy and Bridgy to clear Alan’s name and make sure the real killer gets booked.”


So there you have it. These five award nominated authors are hard at work to continue to bring you captivating mysteries for years to come.

Congratulations and good luck to all. Our journey around the internet is great fun and I never know where we are going to show up next but one thing is for sure, we’ll be together.


Library Talks Revisited

The first live, non-virtual presentation of Broken Window, my new release, occurred Monday, March 16th at the Norwalk Public Library, in Norwalk, CT. Twenty-plus people were there and it went perfectly, thanks to Cynde Lahey, programming specialist.

In previous talks, I strained to give entertaining speeches, even quoting a poem which left me feeling tense and pressured. From that experience I realized people really wanted to know the process, how a writer’s mind works, where the ideas for a book come from, and what is the writing method.

So this time I went for the conversational tone.

The conversation went both ways with people asking questions and answering my editorial questions. I had a great time, we had a couple of laughs, and I was relaxed throughout and the members in the audience were totally engaged.

Of course, I wrote down every word I wanted to say, I rehearsed it seven times, then I had index cards with key words to trigger my memory as I went through the hour, buffet lunch program. That process also took a great deal of strain off me, for my memory was perfectly primed, and I had confidence in it. All I needed was a word, and the words just flowed.

I’ve done the index cards in the past, but I hadn’t written down each word I was going to say. I just used the cards to trigger my memory, but I found that rehearsing took much out of me for I was creating the talk each and every time. This time I just stuck to the written words, and it was far less of a strain. Plus, I loved confining the subject matter to the simple process of writing.

Now, I’m all prepared to have another conversation with book lovers  on the evening of June 8th at the Wilton Public Library.


Okay. I know that’s not the correct ending for this famous movie quote, but I’ll be back with another post about making books into movies very soon, especially if I’m feeling lucky that day.

film-clipart-Movie-Clip-Art-1344.jpgFor now, let’s talk about famous lines that have become part of our everyday language, or as a recent article in The New York Time, “The Rapid Decline of The Movie Quotation,” put it, the lack of them. The writer of the article, Teddy Wayne, offers the opinion that movies from the last 15 years lack memorable dialogue. Some of it may be chalked up to bad writing and some to the way movies are now produced and distributed—anyone can watch them with the click of a remote rather than buying a DVD. And, the fact that a lot of millenials are using devices other than a TV for their viewing pleasure.

The article goes on to discuss that while they’re still making good moves, people are not just watching them as much. Instead, viewers are choosing other media, such as TV and Internet video with a better chance of quoting “The Wire” than they do of a current film.

So, since I haven’t had any of my books made into movies (yet), I don’t know if any of their phrases would be quotable. I’m hoping that if I build it, they will come. While I’m waiting, I’ll be inspired by the 50 best film quotes ever.

How about you? Any movie quotes you love or hope to write? Are you ready for your close up? Let us know.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day was originally a religious observance of the Patron Saint of Ireland but it has evolved into a grand cultural celebration for the Irish and the Irish-for-a-day. Under centuries of English rule over Ireland, the Irish were prohibited from using their own language, following their Roman Catholic faith, or owning their own land, among other proscriptions. When some Irishmen found themselves in the English Army and assigned to the “colonies,” they were surprised to be in a place where no one cared if they honored Saint Patrick. Long before the American Revolution, these British soldiers of Irish birth marched downtown by the old Saint Patrick’s Church and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was born. So, yes, the New York Saint Patrick’s Day Parade predates the founding of our nation. You can find videos and information about the facts and fiction of St. Patrick’s Day on the History Channel.

Have a grand and glorious day. I, myself, will be busy remembering the history and singing the songs. And maybe a bit of Soda Bread would be in order.



Tomorrow, Tomorrow…

♫ Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, because you’re my release day. ♫ Or something like that! I’ve been in a weird mood with getting music stuck in my head. Last month, I was on a panel about romance and mystery at Sisters in Crime and I couldn’t stop singing:

♫ Love and murder, love and murder, they go together like a sheep and herder
Let me tell you brother, one soon follows on the other….♫

But anyway, back to the topic of this post. Tomorrow my new book Echoes, comes out. It’s the first in a new series about  group of security specialists who work cases like kidnap and ransom, personal security, high tech espionage…basically all the fun stuff. Since they’re not cops or military, they work without quite so many restraints. And they were founded by the very wealthy and very mysterious Dwight “Nashville” Harper, so they get all the good toys. Here’s the cover copy:

A single photo of herself as an infant on a beach, taken before the date on her birth certificate, throws everything Calliope Pearson knows about herself into question. Hoping to find answers, she takes advantage of her job as a travel writer to make a reservation at the Caribbean island resort in the picture.

Resort security chief Mac Brody distrusts Callie on sight. After all, she looks exactly like his deceitful missing wife, Nikki, who owns half the resort. But when Nikki’s found dead, Mac’s facing murder charges, and he’s sure that Callie must hold the key to proving his innocence.

The deeper Callie and Mac dive into the mystery of her past, the more bodies surface. And they’ll have to learn to trust each other, or become victims of a dark danger neither could’ve imagined….

I hope you’ll consider taking a break in the Caribbean after this harsh, harsh winter!

(Edited to add: I’m giving away cheese to celebrate this release…mostly because I am the cheesiest writer any of you know. But also for other reasons. To find out what they are and enter to win, head over to The Cheesiest Giveaway!)