Banned Books Week

BBW-logoBanned Books Week runs September 27-October 3, 2015 this year.

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read.

Follow @BannedBooksWeek on Twitter, or “like” the Facebook page. The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association is also on Twitter @OIF.

Over at, enter the sweepstakes to win a selection of banned YA books.

Consider participating in the Virtual Read-Out, or check out these additional free events during the week.                                                  The Call of the Wild

Click here for a list of Banned Books That Shaped America, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain (1884), The Call of the Wild, by Jack London (1903), and The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (1951).


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13


Local Libraries Support Writers

A great big thanks to local libraries for their support of writers and readers. They bring us together in a must sensitive and dedicated way.

I will be participating in a panel of mystery writers at The Norwalk Public Library, in Norwalk, CT, in August. Cynde Lahey is the special events coordinator there. The library has good participation for author talks, no doubt, due to Cynde.

Twenty-five people were present at my March talk there about Broken Window published March 1st. Broken Low res on line 45_med

At 6:00, June 8th I will be at the Wilton Library, Wilton, CT doing a talk organized by Karen Danvers. The library is at 137 Old Ridgefield Road, 203-762-3950. For Murder at the P&Z, the first book in the Carol Rossi Mystery Series there were a good number of people with many probing questions so I’m looking forward to it. 2940016205199_p0_v1_s300x

Thanks again to the dedicated libraries, their incredible coordinators, and their participants.


Hint Fiction Contest


jpg_5936_Royalty_Free_Clip_Art_Happy_Pencil_Cartoon_Character_Holding_Golden_Trophy_CupThe West Hartford Libraries in Connecticut are holding a Hint Fiction contest.

According to their website: Hint Fiction Contest stories should be entertaining, thought-provoking, and evoke an emotional response. Stories both light and dark are appreciated – in 25 words. A positive, happier story just might stand out! 

Forty finalists will be selected by the staff of West Hartford Libraries. From the forty finalists, the Top Ten winners will be selected by three library-sponsored writing groups – West Hartford Fiction Writers, Connecticut Screenwriters, and the Faxon Poets.

PRIZES: Each of the top ten winners will receive a $25 CASH AWARD (provided by the library’s Thomas Kilfoil Bequest).

All 40 Finalists and Top 10 Winners will be notified via email on June 25, 2015jpg_letter4cash awards will follow by mail within three weeks. The return of any notification as undeliverable will result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. No substitution or transfer of a prize is permitted.

Entries will be accepted until May 25, 2015. No more than three entries may be submitted per person – entries may be grouped together in one submission. All entries must be original, unpublished, and must not have been submitted elsewhere for any purpose. Participants must be at least fourteen years old on the date of submission.

Should you go for it, let us know ~ and good luck!


Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

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.

You may be right, but Poe’s handwriting makes me suspicious

There’s a new book, The Poet Edgar Allan Poe: Alien Angel by Jerome McGann, which is, very aptly, all about his poetry. (I’m ignorant enough not to have known what a fanboi Baudelaire was.) However, from reviewer Dominc Green’s perspective in The Weekly Standard (emphasis mine):

Poe is an acquired taste, like whiskey or opium. He was a poet in the way that William Blake was an artist: idiosyncratic and obscure, a commercial adventurer who lacked business sense, a marginal antagonist who became a national treasure, an etcher of sharp and violent lines with a dazzled eye for overdone color. His hero was Byron: a first-rate celebrity but a second-rate poet; really, a debauched Augustan. No less conventionally, Poe called Tennyson the greatest living poet. If Poe’s biography is Byron’s catastrophe on a budget, his poetry is Tennyson unhinged by Thomas de Quincey. As heroic Romanticism slides into boggling horror, meter becomes an avalanche.

Poe was a peerless self-destructor: He was a liar and a plagiarist, a drunk in the office and a beggar in the street, who pandered to a public he despised and married his 13-year-old cousin. McGann skirts the biographical disaster and concentrates on Poe’s writing. But without the tragic setting, Poe’s verse wilts into melodrama, and as McGann forgoes context, he takes Poe at his own assessment, which Poe, a chronic self-publicist, supplied in his marginalia and essays.

Well, okay, all this may be so–it’s certainly the commonly-held view of the wild rebelliousness and dangerous edge that Poe himself seems to have cultivated among readers to provoke and sell papers. Disclaimer: I’m cognizant of the incompleteness of my knowledge. I’m not saying that artifice is the only cause for Poe’s reputation and that it was nothing more than his flair for showmanship. But smart Poe people who I’ve asked seem to read in his words–some of which I got to peruse myself– that his self-cultivated sensationalism was at least part of the hype surrounding him. Now, when I’m reading florid summaries of Poe’s epically rock-n-roll ‘tude, I always think back to visiting the Poe exhibit at the Morgan library. Something popped out at me then that my own lying eyes cannot forget. I further blame my former stints as a bartender and all the mysteries and crime fiction I’ve read.

On diplay were many long scrolls of hand-written manuscripts in a beautiful hand, some impossibly small and perfectly-placed. For publicity and commemorative purposes, Poe made lavishly calligraphed works on scrolls. If you saw this kind of execution in Poe’s own hand–and perhaps you did, too, so share in the comments!– and the sheer volume of other documents, revised copies, bound books, and even ledgers in tiny, almost-impeccable script, you might have your doubts, too, about his being a career drunk. First of all, where would he have found the time to spend what must’ve been endless hours in painstaking transcription? For a guy on the hustle, and always in need of scratch, hours away from the writing board were hungry hours, and he did have his little family who he’s reputed to have cared for.

When people blithely cite Poe’s years of alcohol abuse, I think what they likely mean, and it’s a big difference, is long stints of near-teetotaling sobriety–which are documented in at least a couple spots by him as being his intention–punctuated with blackout binges. From the people I spoke to at the exhibit, it wasn’t even attested that Poe could really “put it away,” like a hard-core drunk. He was a small man and likely a lightweight. When he did fall off the wagon, he would’ve been a cheap date, to mix my metaphors. Perhaps his outsized reputation is why, at his death, people may have been dragging him around town, pouring ever more down him, not aware that a sporadic binger couldn’t tolerate it like a hollow-legged merchant marine. Then again, maybe they didn’t care.

Yes, writing was Poe’s business and he’d have had more automatic, muscle-memorized skills than many, but seriously. In a career drunk, as we say, the eyes go blinky and the hands go wobbly long before the liver fails. No man with regularly-pounding hangovers, throbbing vision, delirium tremens (or whatever else the popular perception of his condition) could have, in my view, penned the regularly exacting duplicating work I saw any more than one could be so impaired while illuminating in one’s monkish cubicle at the scriptorium or even painting on a grain of rice at the mall. The advent of word processors, with their endless, invisible corrections was a gift to sozzled writers everywhere.

1849-Poe-EssayThe document above is not able to be enlarged to readability (sorry!), but it is a page from an essay Poe handwrote in 1849, the year he died. The image and dimensions are from the This page, one of three, is 10″ x 8″. It’s far from the tightest, cleanest copy I saw. Nonetheless, as I roughly calculate it by number of lines and word spacing, to fit all this onto the page, around 500 words, Poe’s work here is approximately 11pt font, single-spaced. I’m not sure I can do that now, and I know I can’t do it evenly and legibly.

Edgar-Allan-Poe-Analyzes-HandwritingMaybe that’s why I noticed his penmanship after all, because mine is so foul. But Poe was so attentive to the art, he actually wrote his own treatise on graphology, including literary criticism and analysis of major literary figures of his time.

To me, this is exactly the kind of situation where a visit to a museum or archive to look at the original source material can offer so much more food for thought than just a transcription of words that were on the page. Whether I’m right (or write), after seeing the flourishes of all his beautiful words, I’ll never look at Poe the same way, and I’ll never be able to take those “everybody knows” biographical claims of his grinding, utter dissolution at purely face value.

That’s only my opinion–feel free to share yours!

A Visit To the Fort Myers Beach Library

ftmyersbeach3_26Fort Myers Beach! Gorgeous, right? I recently had a chance to be the guest speaker at the top notch library that serves the community so well. I was delighted to meet Dr. Leroy Hommerding who has been the Director of the Fort Myers Beach Library for the past fifteen years and has overseen the expansion to the magnificent facility that stands on Estero Boulevard today.


To read more about the library and my adventures, please click through to my website.


Getting Your Blurbs

My new book, Broken Window, is coming out in a month or two, published by Mainly Murder Press, and I’ve got the ARC, Advanced Review Copy, and have sent it out for blurbs. In only a couple of weeks, and during the holiday season, several blurbs were emailed to me all ready alleviating the stress since I have a deadline.

When I know the publishing date, and see the book cover, I’ll set-up the local library book tour, and the virtual book tour where my new book and I will visit websites for mystery fans, and I’ll be offering some giveaways. Also there’s the local newspaper that I hope will be interested since the story takes place in a small town, Wilton, CT.

As always, I’m grateful for the venues, the dedicated librarians and all those behind the scenes who offer platforms for writers to introduce their brand new book to readers.

Have you learned any secrets to launching a new book?




First National Readathon Day


The First National Readathon Day is set for January 24, 2015, from noon – 4 pm. The campaign (Twitter #timetoread) was launched yesterday by Penguin Random House. In addition to encouraging folks to make time to read, the program will support the National Book Foundation (whose function is to expand the audience for literature in America) using first Participants can read on their own or form teams which can pool their fundraising efforts.


Mashable will dedicate one session of its book club to the project. Goodreads is also on board. Schools, Libraries, and bookstores are encouraged to participate.

The first 100 venues to sign up as hosts will get a free Readathon poster.


Are you going to participate in the First National Readathon on January 24, 2015 ~ in a cozy chair in your own home, your local library, your favorite bookstore, or elsewhere? Let us know ~ and what you are planning to read, if you already know!

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13 ~ along with @PenguinRandom @nationalbook @mashable @goodreads

My Town Mon.– Jefferson Market Library


The Jefferson Market Library, like a cat with nine lives, has been saved from the wrecking ball over and over. Built in 1877, it was originally the Jefferson Market Courthouse and was located next to a public market and a jail on 10th Street and Avenue of the Americas.

The Courthouse That Escaped The Gavel, an article in the Real Estate section of Sunday’s New York Times details its history and multiple close calls with demolition starting back in 1910 before there was a landmarks preservation law. It is basically through the efforts of the city’s Mayor Robert F. Wagner that the building remained standing and that the New York Public Library took it over in 1967. Later, in 1969 it was finally designated a part of the Greenwich Village Historic District and protected under the law.

I never knew about this magnificent building until the Sisters in Crime NY/Tri-State chapter started having its meetings there last year. It’s a fabulous building, a super high Victorian Gothic design with a rich history. Something I’m delighted has been preserved. So a big thank you to all those who fought to save it over the years, and to those who appreciate that the past should be remembered.

In addition to The Times article, you can find more photos and information about the Jefferson Market Library on the NYPL website225px-Jefferson_Market_Court_-_Berenice_Abbott_-_1935.

Novel Night: A Benefit for the Hoboken Public Library

Next Saturday evening, I’ve been invited to be one of the guests of honor at a dinner for Novel Night, a fund raising benefit to support the Hoboken Public Library.

My Host, Susan Moore, filled me in on the particulars of the event. Novel Night, which occurs every other year, with Novella Night in intervening years, is conducted by a group of hosts—this year 21 people—who open their homes to offer a book-themed dinner to raise funds for the library. Each host invites 10 people who contribute to the library fund and get to meet an author whose book is being highlighted. This year, Susan, who is planning an Italian dinner, graciously invited me to participate and to discuss my first novel, Telling Lies, which features Florence, Italy in many chapters.telling_lies

Novel Night has brought in between 20 and 25 thousand dollars at each event. Originally, the goal was to raise funds for the preservation of the library’s historical collection, but that has moved to providing funds for particular projects related to the historic renovation of the library. Recent funds will be providing for the installation of an historically appropriate door for the building.

Susan also mentioned that the concept has been adopted by other towns in New Jersey, including Ridgewood where Novel Night raised over $50,000 for their project last year. It might be an idea that your local library could benefit from.