Taking a Break from Erotic Romance, back to my Mystery roots!

Tuesday night I participated in a mystery writer panel along with fellow authors Ann Parker (Silver Rush mysteries), Mark Coggins (August Riordan series) and Camille Minichino (Periodic Table mystery series) at the Castro Valley Library.

To the right are me and Ann, while below Ann and I listen in evident fascination to Mark.  And below that you can see throngs (yes, that’s right!  Throngs!) of audience members coming up after the talk to buy copies of our books.  That’s Camille at the far end of the table, btw.  All in all a very satisfying event!

Number Six!

Okay, ONE more bookish factoid left.

But first, let me just grebble (a word Brian and I used to apply to our godson Colin when he was a baby and would express his displeasure in a particularly burbly toddler-esque way) a bit about my schedule so you won’t all think I’m a total slacker for this gap between posts.

I work for a VC (Venture Capital, not Viet Cong) firm (one that invests in green/sustainable technology/products and is committed to health and wellness, which is kind of cool) and we have our big bi-annual meeting next week.  Or series of meetings.  This means overtime in order to get done what has to be done every day, as well as prepare for the meetings.  I also have my Ravenous Romance and What Women Really Want in Bed deadlines to keep.  So…work work work and write write write.  Wheeee!!!!

Okay, done grebbling.

I regularly go to the childrens section in the library and check out books I loved as a child and pre-teen.  I have a slowly growing collection of books I’ve found on Ebay, used bookstores and, for those reprinted, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I used to think I’d pass them on to my kid, but I am at the age where I realize the only children I will ever have are furry, four-legged and would rather watch TV (and attack the moving images) than read.

Maud Hart Lovelace.  Betsy, Tacy and Tib.  Anyone else read those books?  Set at the turn of the century in Minnesota, this series followed the adventures of best friends Betsy and Tacy (and in book 2, Tib) and their friends and family from the age of 7 onward. There was much singing around the piano, making of fudge, amateur theatrics and innocent romance.  My mom introduced me to these books and were one of the rather unusual things me and Maureen had in common that led to our best friendship and subsequent partnership in MURDER FOR HIRE.

The Space Cat series.  There are four of them.  Space Cat, Space Cat Visits Mars, Space Cat Visits Venus and Space Cat and the Kittens.  I collected all four of them (not easily – they are highly collectible and I was on a budget) and now have them on display in one of my living room bookcases.

The Chronicles of Narnia.  We didn’t have Harry Potter back in the day, but we had C.S. Lewis, Aslan, and lots of cool magical, mystical characters and critters.

Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Series.  Loved them.  The Black Cauldren was eventually made into a movie.

Henry Winterfield’s Star Girl.  The tale of a girl who falls to earth and is befriended by four German children, who help her journey to the meeting point where her father will pick her up.  LOVED that book.  It costs a friggin’ fortune, but I found a paperback used for an affordable price.

There are so many more…  but time to get going on my current Ravenous Romance. I have a kitten stretched out across my arms (he’s drooling on me, actually) and two hours of writing ahead of me.  Here I go!

Passion’s Purple Prose or Bookish Factoid #5

It’s Thursday morning and I’m riding the L Muni car into work.  Sitting about five rows in front of me is a teenage boy with headphones on, the volume on his music pumped so high I can hear it from where I’m sitting.  I am fighting a nearly unbearable urge to go up to him, lift one side of the headset and yell, “CAN YOU HEAR ME? BECAUSE YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO IN A FEW YEARS, YOU IDIOT!”  But that would involve getting out of my seat and having to stand the rest of the long, crowded ride to Embarcadero Station, so I’ll continue to resist the urge.  But jeez Louise, isn’t the point of headsets, iPods and Mp3s so you can enjoy whatever you’re listening to without inflicting it on other people?  And wait a sec…nope, teenage boy with headset, I impugned you falsely.  It’s actually a pre-teen girl with an iPod, her earplugs dangling off her shoulders so she can share her music with her friend.  And the rest of us.  Now I’m thinking more along the lines of earplugs as garrote.  Does this make me a bad person?  No, just the antithesis of a morning person who resents having to listen to crappy music before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. It takes my nerve endings a while to crawl back into their sheathes in the mornings.  I don’t wake up bright and chipper when I’m forced to leave my bed at the command of an alarm clock.  And while I’m not what I’d consider homicidal as a rule, infringing on my personal space (and yes, this includes auditory assault) makes me think bad things.  The voices tell me it’s a GOOD thing.

And boy, am I off track for my post today!  Yes, it’s Bookish Factoid #5 time!

When thinking of ideas for stories and books for Ravenous Romance, I went through a suitcase full of my old writing.  We’re talking stories and partial novels from grade school (including my epic one paragraph short story THE END OF THE SUN) through my ’20, back when everything was either handwritten or typed on my handy IBM Selectric.  I used to stay after work at the IRS (yes, I worked at the IRS back in the day) and type up our Murder for Hire scripts, short stories, and whatever else Maureen and I were trying to sell/produce, including two spec Moonlighting scripts.  As a side note, we didn’t sell the Moonlighting scripts, but we did get invited to the wrap party.  We had good food and drink and were treated to the sight of a young, drunk Bruce Willis boogying on the dance floor and periodically pumping his fist in the air, shouting “Fuckin’ A!”

Maureen and I also had a bunch of outlines for original TV series, movies of the week, and other projects. I have all of them, including a completed script for a romantic comedy heavily influenced by Romancing the Stone and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  We originally wrote this for an independent producer in San Diego who wanted to make an erotic romance with a decent script.  Not quite porn, but certainly not the light headed fluff we turned out.  He wasn’t interested in the script, so Maureen and I came up with the bright idea of filming it ourselves. One video camera, no lights, and a group of gung-ho actors later, we actually filmed a decent portion of the script, filling up three 6-hour videotapes. We even went on location, spending a day at the Strawberry Creek Inn (thank you, Jim and Diane!), which was owned by my ex parents-in-law.

I don’t remember why we stopped filming, but it’s probably just as well.  The results were about as amateurish as you’d expect given our ‘let’s put on a show’ mentality.  I have a camera!  We can use your barn…’

But as embarrassing as it is to watch some of this (I cringe whenever I’m on screen), I’m still proud of the moxy it took to fill those three tapes and the fact we had actors willing to give us their time because they liked our script and enjoyed (I hope) working with us.  Plus we fed them lots of home baked chocolate chip cookies.

I still have these tapes and I still have the script.  And when I got an email from Ravenous saying they were looking for serialized novels, I pulled out the script, scanned and sent them the first 25 pages with explanation, and received a positive response. So it looks like it’s going to finally fulfill its original purpose as a more adult romantic comedy.  And I’ll have a chance to take out some of the truly sophomoric jokes originally we originally put in that now make us wince, especially when we think of how funny we thought they were at the time.

Upcoming Virtual Book-signing Events

My friend and fellow writer Steve Prosapio, is holding Bookdays on his blog, virtual interviews and book drawings with four writers, including myself.  Steve’s blog is here.  Below, in his own words, is a more comprehensive description of the events.  Please stop by his blog, both on the dates mentioned and just to check it out!  And yes, a free copy of MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon, will be up for grabs!


They say that March comes in like a lion…


But I’m hereby declaring the next thirty days, “March out and buy a book” month! In support of that, I’ll be hosting virtual “book-signing” events each Wednesday this month on my blog. In fact, I’ll no longer refer to the fourth day of the week as “Wednesday” any longer. It’s now called “Bookday.”


Okay, that last part might be a bit over the top, but the “book events” will be fun.


Without further ado, here’s who will be joining us:


March 5th – Chicago, IL

Geoffrey Edwards, author of Fire Bell in the Night, a historical novel set in antebellum South Carolina that centers on the trial of a man who helped an escaping slave.


March 12th – San Francisco, CA

Dana Fredsti, author of Murder For Hire: The Peruvian Pigeon, an almost-cozy murder mystery about an acting troupe that specializes in spoofing, not sleuthing…until bodies start stacking up. 

March 19th – Sienna, Italy

My review of Too Much Tuscan Sun by Dario Castagno, a memoir of a Chianti tour guide. I recently met Dario at a book signing. I’d corresponded with him from time to time since purchasing his book in 2005.


March 26th – New York, NY

Seymour Garte, author of Where We Stand:  A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet. This nonfiction work explores environmental topics and suggests what we can do to better care for the earth. 

Stop by for any/all of these events on my blog. Interviews with the authors will be posted and some of them have agreed to stop by the blog that day to discuss their work and answer questions from the audience (aka the No Bull Gallery). You do NOT need to be registered with Live Journal to participate. You can post anonymously (hit the “anonymous” button after clicking your comment), but please make sure to put your name on the post. Books and/or gift cards will be given away on the Friday following the visits to those who participate.


Don’t miss out on your chance to “mingle” with published authors (and win free books)!


Again, these events will be held ON MY BLOG on the posted dates. I will be “replaying” the interviews, so to speak, on my gather.com home page but if you want to win prizes, come and post to the BLOG itself. “

Morning Glass, Adventures of a Legendary Waterman, by Mike Doyle

I just finished the above titled book by Mike Doyle, legendary surfer and all around waterman. Doyle was one of the original crowd at Malibu and, as I found out from reading his autobiography, the book and subsequent movie BIG WEDNESDAY (directed by John Milius) were based on Doyle and the other surfers at Malibu during the uncrowded, halcyon days of the late ’50s.

I loved this book. Written in a matter-of-fact, totally non-judgemental voice, Doyle captures the joy of surfing and shares the adventures, triumphs and failures of his life in an honest and inspirational way. I would recommend MORNING GLASS to surfers and non-surfers alike – anyone going through a life crisis will benefit from Doyle’s story. He’s living proof that you can change paths at any point in your life and find happieness and success. A real testiment to ‘follow your bliss and success will follow.’

Unfortunately the book is now out of print and copies are going anywhere from $50 to $200 bucks. I lucked out and found a copy for $20 on Half.com, but it was the only one below the $50 price point.