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March 17th, 2010

I’ve been meaning for weeks to post a more cheerful entry than last month’s, but like everyone else I know, life kept intervening. I’ve vowed more than once this year to update these entries more frequently, but it seems like there’s always something more important that needs to be done right now. But never fear, Dear Reader, I feel better today. You know how it is. Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes, the bear gets you.

In fact, the past month has been quite eventful, and in a good way. First of all, I am happy to reports that The Sky Took Him is one of five finalists for the 2010 Oklahoma Book Award in the Fiction category. The awards ceremony is April 17, in Oklahoma City,. I would love to go, but Don has a couple of icky tests and outpatient procedures coming up right about then. Besides, I couldn’t quite justify a thousand dollar weekend trip. If by some delightful happenstance Sky should win, I’d love to spend that money on a driving book tour of the Homeland later in the year.

I’ve also been fortunate to cross paths with several of my favorite author friends recently, as well as to meet a couple of talented folks for the first time. Earlier this month, I had supper with my friends Judy Starbuck and Hannah Dennison, who was in town promoting her newest Vickie Hill novel, Expose’. She was traveling with Kate Carlisle, author of If Books Could Kill (great title), whom I had never before met. After a great meal in Scottsdale, Hannah and Kate teamed up for a program at Poisoned Pen Bookstore with local Phoenix author, Annette Mahon, whose new mystery, A Phantom of Death, was just released.
Hannah Dennison Kate Carlisle Phantom of Death

Then, just last weekend, March 13 and 14, I was down in Tucson for the second annual Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus. I did this event last year, just for one of the days, when Don was still housebound with tubes and bags everywhere. It was the first time I left him alone after his Big Crisis. This year we went together and made a weekend of it. It was his first out of town trip in over a year and a half, and we had a really good time. I conducted a mystery writing workshop on Saturday, and on Sunday I participated on a historical mystery panel with Jennifer Lee Carrell. Her novel Interred with Their Bones was a New York Times best-seller. There was quite a crowd for that one. I did a signing afterwards, and got to chat a bit with David Morrell. He’s written dozens of big time novels, but he’s best known for his first. First Blood, which is the basis for Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo movies.
Jennifer Lee Carrell

The best fun, though, was Sunday brunch at the Blue Willow restaurant, a Tucson institution, with Libby Fischer Hellman and Cara Black. These women have each written ten mysteries. Libby’s are set in Chicago, and Cara’s in Paris. We had a great time commiserating and kvetching, though Cara had just that morning discovered that her tenth and latest book was reviewed in the New York Times, so she had less to kvetch about that the rest of us.
Libby Hellmann Cara Black

The weather was gorgeous, literally tens of thousands of people attended the festival, and I had a wonderful time with Don. All in all it was an uplifting get away.

And now back to reality. Friends and loved ones are still facing health problems, and lots of work needs to be done. My editor put a bug in my ear about the new book, so I’m working under deadline, now, trying to get a finished manuscript to the publisher by sometime in June. I think I can do it. I’m going to give it the old college try, anyway. I understand that my book has been penciled in on the publishing schedule for release in March 2010.

Unless the publisher decides something else, I’m calling the new book Crying Blood. You heard it here first.

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