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August 17, 2015

  • Pretty Girls, Karin Slaughter
  • Magic Bleeds, Ilona Andrews
  • Tempt the Stars, Karen Chance

Karin Slaughter’s work is increasingly exciting. She’s always been a very good writer, but as last year’s Cop Town proved, now she’s a great one. Pretty Girls is very different, but just as good. It’s about three sisters – one missing and presumed dead, two living in very different circumstances – and the unexpected tie that binds them all. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but I hope you’ll all put this book on your list of must-reads. It comes out in SEPTEMBER.
 

I’ve been rereading Ilona Andrews, and now I’ve just finished Magic Bleeds. These books stand out from the pack of paranormal writing. Kate is a tough killer, and nobody’s fool, but she’s a person with lots of other attributes. And Curran is not exquisitely handsome to the eye, at least at first. As happens in real life, the more Kate gets to know the werelion, the more attractive he becomes. And the story, which is the real point, is rip-roaring, the world-building interesting and internally logical.
 

I’m also rereading Karen Chance’s Cassie Palmer series, and Tempt the Stars was my most recent trip down memory lane with Chance. The break-neck speed of her books and the amount of punishment, both emotional and physical, that Cassie endures, is what makes these books remarkable. Cassie Palmer’s world is complicated and fascinating, and I’m enjoying it all over again, though I confess that the plot turns get so convoluted that I have trouble following them. But I’m having a great time trying!

REUNION

There’s nothing that makes a writer shudder like the prospect of reading all her old work. From 1990 to 2003, I wrote a series about a Georgia librarian, Aurora Teagarden. This year, I signed with St. Martin to write two more. Since I’ve written a lot of books both during and since I worked with Aurora, I set aside this time to read all the books in the series.
It’s like going to a class reunion. You see a lot of passages you were fond of way back when. You recognize a lot of ideas that seemed good . . . at the moment. And you shake your head. Overall, there’s a glow of affection for time gone by.
 

Since I’ve read the last four books back to back, certain themes or phrases pop out at me that certainly didn’t when I was working on telling Roe’s story. Roe wears fall colors a LOT. Especially tobacco brown. I don’t recall being obsessed with tobacco brown, but evidently I felt that Roe was. (She still looks best in fall tones, by the way.)
 

And bruising her face. In every encounter with a bad person (and I do have bad women as well as bad men) Roe gets a black eye or another facial bruise. I must have felt strongly that the evil she encountered should be visible to others. Was I trying to elicit sympathy for Roe? Force a protective attitude from the men she’s involved with? I don’t remember where I was going with that.
 

Some aspects of the books haven’t aged well. Every woman wriggles into pantyhose and hates the process, in Roe’s world. Well, I was a forerunner there. Women hated pantyhose so much that most women discarded them. And lots of women wear dresses every day, another tradition that’s pretty much been done away with. Also, it never crosses Roe’s mind that Martin should help around the house, though I think maybe that’s just Martin. I’ll bet Roe’s second husband will be more generous with his time.
 

To my delight, and contrary to my memory, there are cell phones in the last two books. Great! Starting up again won’t be the huge leap in technology that was scaring me. Though Roe is suspicious of computers, and no librarian now can be that way. Most libraries are havens for computer users, now.
 

So much updating to do! But having reread the books I wrote so long ago, I’m actually looking forward to living in Aurora Teagarden’s world again.
 

Charlaine Harris

August 10, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
  • The Drafter, Kim Harrison
  • Armada, Ernest Cline

In addition to reading these three outstanding novels, I am working my way back through the novels of Karen Chance and Ilona Andrews. Sometimes you just get an impulse to reread series in order, and it’s best not to ignore such an impulse. I find there’s usually a reason.
 

Lila Bowen is better known under another name, but this YA book is not only fascinating but very challenging. Half-breed Nettie Lonesome is living with a couple in a dry, lonesome, western area, eking out an unhappy existence and waiting for her life to improve somehow. Change comes in a very unexpected way when she kills a creature that invades her farm. Suddenly, Nettie can see the world in a different way and her place in that world is not the same. Nettie has other less obvious adventures: she is a girl who dresses like a man and acts like a man, but when she begins to experience her first sexual stirrings, she has moments with both sexes. Wake of Vultures is a coming-of-age story on several levels. IT WILL BE ON THE SHELVES OCTOBER 27, 2015.
 

Everyone knows Kim Harrison, right? She’s moved beyond The Hollows now, into a very complicated novel, The Drafter. In 2030, a woman named Peri Reed, who works for Opti, finds herself in a terrifying situation. Peri is a drafter, with a very rare skill – she can alter time. But with all these alterations comes a lot of confusion, so she’s always assisted and taken care of by an anchor. The anchors remember both events . . . but the drafter only remembers one. Peri begins to suspect she is being used, and her talent exploited; and she remembers there’s a list of corrupt Opti agents. She’s absolutely right. It’s a learning curve to get all the terminology in this book straight, but once you do, it’s riveting. THIS BOOK WILL BE OUT IN SEPTEMBER 2015.
 

Armada is a book many, many people have been waiting for. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One was a groundbreaker, one of the most original books of 2012, and an upcoming 2017 movie from Steven Spielberg. How could Cline top RPO, which made so many “best book of the year” lists? Armada, with its game-playing references and pop culture vibe, comes pretty close. A kid named Zack Lightman, whose father has been dead for many years, is about to graduate from high school and has no idea what the future holds. Zack has a part time job at a games store, and he is a high-ranked player of “Armada,” a combat game of earth vs. aliens. One day everything Zack thinks he knows is yanked out from under him, and he’s playing “Armada” for real . . . but wait! How come the enemy has thoughtfully provided the players with their weaknesses, too?

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I’ve talked in this spot before about the less glamorous aspects of writing, and that would be ninety percent of them. A couple of months ago, I finished NIGHT SHIFT, the next Midnight, Texas book. Good enough! Now it goes to my editor, right?
 

Nope. Since I had time, it went first to my “beta” readers (I think of them as my “alpha” readers, actually), Toni Kelner (Leigh Perry) and Dana Cameron. Toni and Dana very kindly donated their time to read it and give me invaluable feedback, which in this case, meant some rewrites. Fair enough. That’s exactly what the beta reader is supposed to do: point out errors and inconsistencies and generally give you advice on how to make the book a more coherent narrative. At least, that’s my take.
 

So I rewrote, and sent it to my agent without sending it to my editor. If the book is very late, I don’t always take this step, but it’s good I did, because my agent found fault with the way I handled some characters. And he also pointed out several infodumps, which I have always prided myself on avoiding. So these rewrites were slower, more painful, and more extensive. Plus, embarrassing.
 

That took me two weeks – two weeks of struggle and anger. At myself, mostly. But those weeks of struggle paid off for the book, and I knew it as I was working, so I was at peace with the necessity. I was also glad I’d finished the book early, as I saw it, so I could do all this work NIGHT SHIFT needed.
 

But Friday, I hit “send” again, and this time I meant it. NIGHT SHIFT is out of the house and in the hands of my editor, and my agent is rereading it, and it’s done.
 

But not really. I’ll get it back from my editor with suggested changes and comments, and then the copy editor will send it back. And finally, I’ll get the page proofs, which will require another read-through. Is it any wonder that most writers hate their book the month this all takes place? I sure do. The saying “It ain’t over til it’s over” might have been formulated to remind writers of the way a book boomerangs.
 

So please don’t ever ask a writer how long it takes them to “pump out a book” or ask them how many books they “knock out” a year. There is nothing automatic or easy about it, for almost every writer I’ve ever met. I am slower than most writers I know, and one book a year is all I can handle.
 

However, by the time it’s due to hit the shelves, I’ll be waiting nervously to see if it gets good reviews, if people like it . . . all the while working on the next book. I guess I’m hooked!
 

Charlaine Harris

July 16, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Ghostman, Roger Hobbs
  • Trailer Park Fae, Lilith Saintcrow
  • The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, Max Wirestone
  • Tin Men, Christopher Golden

While I indulged myself during my previous travels by reading books I’d read before, this time I did read some new things. I moved further into rereading Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books, and I followed an impulse to reread the first Karen Chance books about Cassie Palmer. I love the quick pace and colorful world Chance has created for these books, though I confess I get a little confused about what time Cassie is in (she can time-travel) and what the effect of her meddling has been. But the people are so vivid and entertaining, I often don’t care.
 

Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman created quite a stir when it first came out two years ago. It’s definitely a thriller, about a man who lives as anonymous a life as is possible because he’s a career criminal, a bank robber. Since he owes another criminal named Marcus a favor, because of a collapsed job in Kuala Lumpur, Jack is asked by Marcus to investigate a heist planned by two of Marcus’s henchmen. This heist has gone terribly wrong. One of the robbers is dead, the other one’s bleeding and missing, and the money is missing, too. The situation goes from bad to worse to worst. This is a mile-a-minute novel, and really excellent entertainment. It’s been optioned for a movie.
 

I hadn’t read Lilith Saintcrow in a while, so I was glad to spot Trailer Park Fae. An excellent title and an excellent cover give this book a big boost at the starting gate. Jeremiah Gallow has been living in the world of humans since his human wife died, and Robin Ragged, half-human, has been living in the fae world. Her life is not easy, and neither is his. Then their paths cross, and the defender in Gallow awakens to keep Ragged from being killed. This is not a rainbows and unicorns kind of book, unless you like your rainbows dark and ominous and your unicorns murderous. And there’ll be more books about these two to come.
 

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss, in contrast, is a hoot. The unemployed Dahlia, who is both quirky and geeky, is living with her friend Charice and going to dispiriting interview after dispiriting interview. Out of the blue, she is approached to investigate the theft of a virtual spear from an on-line game, “Kingdoms of Zoth.” All too soon, her employer is killed with same spear. But wait — wasn’t it virtual? This book is a barrel of fun, and it will be out in OCTOBER. Mark your buying calendar!
 

My friend Christopher Golden’s new book, Tin Men, is a fictional book about serious issues and concerns. But it’s also about issues of the heart. The Tin Men of the title are remote soldiers: that is, they’re inserted into tanks at headquarters and their consciousness guides the actions of the metal bodies they inhabit during their shift. In the future, Tin Men posits, the United States will have soldiers stationed almost everywhere in the world there’s unrest. The US will have assumed the role of international peacekeepers. But many, many countries will not like that assumption of big-brotherdom. For every (say) Afghani who’s glad their country is safer, there will be another who wants the Tin Men out of their sight. And these haters have banded together to figure out a way to disable the remote soldiers; but it will disrupt the way the rest of the world works, too. I really couldn’t put Tin Men down. It’s extraordinary.

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After two more weekends, I’ll be at home for a while. And I have plenty to do. I’m writing my chapter of a “mosaic” novel proposed by Chris Golden, and since my first work is falling in the middle of the book, I’m both blessed and cursed. I can see my path clearly, but I’m constantly tempted to throw a nail strip under the vehicle!
 

After I finished my allotted pages, I have to implement the suggestions offered by my agent to improve NIGHT SHIFT. It is not a perfect book, and the ideas he had to improve it seemed right on the nose. The first draft is only the beginning of a long process. You’d think writing a book would get easier after all these years, but it doesn’t. Bewilderingly, sometimes even though you can see the narrative is not that bright and enticing, sometimes you just keep on blundering along hoping it will turn sunny in a moment. And sometimes that happens.
 

When NIGHT SHIFT goes to my editor, I’ll start working on the plot for the next Aurora Teagarden. It seems so strange to write those words, after all these years. And even stranger, I’ll have the same editor I had all those years ago, Kelley Ragland. Here’s what’s even more weird – Kelley looks the same as she did then. I, alas, do not.
 

My work calendar is full for the next few months, and I’m looking forward, as always, to doing something different. I think it keeps me on my writing toes.
 

Dawn is working on a new look for the website, and after this weekend, maybe I’ll have the time to make some judgment calls. I want to streamline a site that seems a bit cumbersome now, and generally make it friendlier and more accessible. So bear with us while we’re in transition. You may not even notice the changes all at once.

June 18, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Swerve – Vicki Pettersson
  • Dead Ice – Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Hex on the Ex – Rochelle Staab

Vicki Pettersson has long been a favorite writer in the paranormal field, and she’s certainly a delightful person. When she told me she’d written something completely different, of course I got pretty interested, since that’s practically right up my alley. And Swerve is absolute different from Pettersson’s popular Zodiac series. The catchphrase on the promotional material is simple and riveting: One woman. One road. One killer. It is as breathtaking as the promos suggest. Wow!
 

It will please readers who prefer the first few Anita Blake books to know that there are fewer sex scenes in Dead Ice, though there’s a lot of discussion about who to add to Anita’s bedroom scene to achieve a balance of power. But there’s even more discussion and action about the actual case Anita is involved in, that of horrifyingly lifelike zombies being used in porn films. Anita, whose power to raise the dead is unrivalled, is not only a big professionally jealous, she’s also curious about who this new necromancer might be. This is a satisfying Anita Blake book, which dedicated readers will enjoy.
 

In the interest of full disclosure, Rochelle Staab and I have the same agent, and I just had a chance to visit with her a bit in California. I was also lucky enough to get a book of hers to read, and I really, really enjoyed Hex on the Ex. Psychologist Liz Cooper has gone to a Dodgers game with her boyfriend, Nick, and her family, to celebrate her dad’s birthday. Liz’s ex, Jarret, is the relief pitcher for the Dodgers. Jarret was unfaithful to Liz during their marriage, and he hasn’t changed any, but they have an amicable relationship. However, the next day Liz goes by to get the remaining box of her possessions and leaves, not knowing there is a body in Jarret’s bedroom. She is seen, and therefore she’s in a lot of trouble. I thoroughly enjoyed this live whodunit.
 

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THE FEAR OF EVERYDAY THINGS

One of the weirdest and most upsetting everyday mishaps is when objects you have been regarding as helpful turn out instead to be malevolent tools of Satan.
 

I refer, of course, to the familiar chopping knife that suddenly chops your very own finger, or the light switch that gives you a shock, or the bedstead that stubs your toe. The shower handle that falls off on your bare foot. The comb that breaks off in your hair.
 

This feels like as big a betrayal as your beloved pet Fido suddenly biting your hand – the hand that feeds him. Now, you know inanimate objects can’t plot, but don’t you sometimes feel they do? “All together, now – let’s get her!” they crow during the night, and the next day will be a pinball course between getting cut, pinched, zapped, and stepping on broken china.
 

Then comes the suspicion. You might avoid the stapler in favor of a simple paperclip, because paperclips are not as prone to cause you harm. You might pick up the scissors with extreme caution. You become very careful handling paper, because those paper cuts can be vicious.
 

This is also a good time to avoid your bathroom scales and your razor, of course.
 

Here’s one that gets me every time. The cylinders of biscuits or sweet rolls that you buy in the refrigerated section. You peel off the label as the cylinder advises you to do, and then . . . and then . . . there’s a POP, and it’s always a surprise, and the cardboard springs apart and dough bulges out in a distressing way. I know it’s going to happen, but I startle every time. Why don’t I learn?
 

One of Elmore Leonard’s Ten Rules of Writing is to never use “suddenly.” I’ve always interpreted this to mean that nothing really happens except in its own time, so “suddenly” is redundant. However, I wonder if Mr. Leonard ever opened one of those cylinders of biscuits.
 

Somedays, navigating my house seems the most hazardous course of all.
 

Charlaine

A Bone to Pick

Aurora Teagarden on Hallmark Channel

Next Airing: Thursday June 11 9:00 PM / 8:00c

aurora“A librarian with a sharp mind for murder, Aurora Teagarden is known around her small town as a master sleuth. When her friend Jane unexpectedly dies and leaves Aurora everything in her will, she also leaves a troubling murder mystery haunting her neighborhood. It is up to Aurora to piece together the clues—-including a skull, its missing skeleton and a suspicious group of neighbors—-and solve the murder before she becomes the unlikely killer’s next victim.”

Stars Candace Cameron Bure, Marilu Henner and Alexa Doig.

Visit The Hallmark Channel website for more information.

May 26, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Plague Town, Plague Nation, Plague World, Dana Fredsti
  • Lord Peter Wimsey books, Dorothy L. Sayers
  • The Harry Potter Books, J.K. Rowling

I met Dana Fredsti at the Bram Stoker weekend in Atlanta. Sometimes, only a good zombie novel will do (at least for me). I tore through the three books in her zombie apocalypse series with glee. Ashley Parker, Barbie lookalike and back-at-college student, catches the flu that’s going around campus. She hasn’t had her flu shot. But after a terrible siege with the illness, she comes back to class to find that (a) she has a new, handsome, TA who dislikes her intensely and (b) the people who got their immunizations from Walker virus are not just dying, they’re coming back as flesh-eating zombies. After being bitten, Ashley discovers that she’s immune – and she’s much stronger than she ever was. The arc of these books follows the spread of the plague and of Ashley’s evolution as a snarky, sword-wielding heroine. I enjoyed all three books immensely, and I am hoping “Plague Universe” and “Plague Galaxy” are forthcoming.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers is one of the golden age queens of mystery, and I thought it would be fun to reread some of her stuff. Her protagonist, Lord Peter Wimsey, is a classic sleuth: titled, apparently silly, he is not only acknowledged by the police but is granted special privileges by some of them. Lord Peter has a very sensitive side, too. Not only does he suffer from what we would call now PTSD, he also feels tremendous anguish when someone he’s apprehended goes to the gallows. Lord Peter is aided in his sleuthing by his able servant Bunter and his policeman friend, Parker, who later in the books becomes Lord Peter’s brother in law. Of course these books show their age in some ways, but at the center of each book is a classic detective story. They are definitely worth reading.

 

Could J.K. Rowling work her magic on me a second time? I decided to reread all the Harry Potter books to find out. The answer was “yes.” I’ll tell you why: all her characters have dimensions. No one is simply good or bad. Even Snape has his reasons for being the unpleasant man he is. Harry is no walk in the park, very often, in fact. I was struck all over again by how hard it must have been for Ron and Hermione to stick with Harry during his multitude of trials and tribulations. Rowling works her own kind of magic in helping us to understand this in her wonderful books about the nature of friendship and loyalty.

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I have met people who say they never reread books. There are enough new ones, they maintain, to prevent their ever having a desire to return to one they’ve already experienced.

 

I can see that point of view when I look at my TBR bookcase – which is a double bookcase with books stacked sideways, by the way. I feel ridiculously secure when I look at it, because that many books stand between me and the horror of having nothing to read.

 

But actually, in rereading lies much pleasure and instruction. When you’ve read a book you particularly love and/or admire, rereading it can inform you exactly why you loved or admired it. As a writer, I learn so much by studying another writer’s bag of tricks! (Excuse me . . . craft.) What details about the world made it striking and indelible? What device to move the action forward felt totally appropriate? What characteristic of the protagonist rang true? On the flip side, what went wrong during the course of the book? What character outstayed his/her welcome? And what emotional note rang false? These are all things I look for when I go through a book the second time.

 

Here are some more-or-less modern books I’ve read multiple times: Mary Renault’s The King Must Die and The Bull from the Sea, Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, Robert Crais’s The Monkey’s Raincoat, Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting, Lee Child’s The Killing Floor, Adam Hall’s Quiller books, C.S. Forester’s Hornblower novels, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels . . . I could go on and on, and maybe someday I will.

 

I think that just like having comfort food, most of us have comfort books, novels we turn to when the world is too much, or we’re in need of going over a familiar lesson again. It’s NOT silly to reread. Sometimes, it’s just what we need.

 

Charlaine Harris

April 27, 2015

Books of the Week:

 

  • Jewel of the Thames, Angela Misri
  • Baltic Gambit, E.E. Night
  • Deliver Us, Kathryn Casey

My friend Dana Cameron recommended Angela Misri’s book. Dana, as well as Angela Misri, apparently, is quite a Sherlockian. Whether you are or not  — and especially if you enjoyed Laurie King’s books – you are sure to enjoy Jewel of the Thames. A very sharp young woman is approached by a hitherto-unknown relative after she looses her mother. The fabulous but shady relative whisks Portia Adams off to England, to the London house Portia has inherited, which turns out to be 221 Baker Street . . . the house of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. This book is engaging and clever, and if you’re like me, you’ll want to read the next one.

 

I’ve long been a fan of E.E. Knight and his Vampire Earth series. Baltic Gambit, though told from the point of view of Alessa Duvalier rather than David Valentine, is every bit as good as its predecessors. In Knight’s world, America has been overcome by an alien race called the Kurians. They don’t have complete control, and there’s a very active rebellion. Both Duvalier and Valentine are rebels. It’s very interesting to see Valentine from another point of view, and also an interesting twist to see the two take off for the Baltic area, much farther than this series has ever ventured.

 

Kathryn Casey is a true crime writer, and Deliver Us is her book about the multiple killings along I-45 in Texas. In a fifty-mile stretch, over three decades, more than twenty women were found discarded in lonely stretches of waste ground, oilfields, forest . . . and many of them were very young. It’s clear that not all these women were killed by the same man or men, since there have been a few arrests and convictions, but most of the cases have never come to court. It’s like this area was a magnet for predators of a certain type. There’s a lot of food for thought in Casey’s narrative of this trail of tears. At least sharing between adjacent law enforcement agencies has improved, DNA samples have helped clear or convict defendants, and the kids of today certainly should be more aware of the dangers around them.

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One of the more interesting things about going to large expos, like ComicCon or Phoenix ComicCon, or C2E2 in Chicago, is the side-order of celebrities that comes with multimedia interest. In my celebrity ranking, writers are the stars of the firmament, and it’s always struck me as funny (or sad) that most writers would not be noticed by the average person on the street. Of course, Stephen King has a famous face. And Mary Higgins Clark, I think. Probably Lee Child, because he’s so tall? I’m sure there are others. But the lowliest television actor is more recognizable.

 

To me, people on the big screen are very hard to translate to real life. Somehow, because you’ve always seen their heads framed by the screen, you expect their heads to be bigger. No, I’m not making a snide comment. Two of the nicest people I’ve ever met at one of these shindigs, Cary Elwes and Sean Astin, were absolutely down to earth. And Amber Benson, of course, but then . . .  she’s a writer now.  (I’m leaving the cast of “True Blood” out of this, since I saw them many times.)

 

This past weekend at C2E2, I was waiting in my golf cart for a car to disgorge Stan Lee so I could take it back to the hotel. My convention escort said, “Here come M. Night Shyamalan and Matt Dillon.” If he hadn’t given me the tipoff, I never would have noticed them. There was no glow around them, and no large crowd of sycophants. Of course, they had a few people with them, but no one was throwing down rose petals where they walked or anything. They had to get from point A to point B in the cavernous convention center just like everyone else.

 

I’m not aiming for any particular point here about the nature of celebrity or how we all have to put our pants on one leg at a time.  But maybe if you want to see a weird jumble of celebrities past and present mixed in with current writers, one of these huge cons is the way to go.  Some of them have photo session areas, where after paying a fee you can have your picture made with them. Some of them are signing memorabilia. Some of them have brought cds or other things they’ve produced. Some of them have written books, actually.

 

But they’re not hanging around by a pool in California reading scripts. They’re out there hustling to stay in the public eye, to make a buck, to keep busy.  And they’re working hard to do this.

 

Just like me at my signing table.

 

Charlaine Harris

April 13, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • The Witch with No Name, Kim Harrison
  • Force of Attraction, D.D. Ayres
  • A Lovely Way to Burn, Louise Welsh
  • Duke City Desperado, Max Austin

I’ve had The Witch with No Name on my TBR bookcase ever since it was published. I guess I just hated to end the ride. But now that I’m reading it, I’m glad I waited. There’s so much in this book, it requires a lot of attention, and there are a lot of plot twists. Will Landon succeed in killing the demons and/or the vampires? Will Nina go completely vamp? How about Ivy? What will happen to Trent’s little girl, and Ray? All I can say it, Harrison handles this like the pro she is, and our Rachel Morgan is an equal pro at survival.
 

My friend D.D. Ayres has done a ton of research into K-9 officers, and it shows – in an ‘information dump’ kind of way, but in the authority with which she shows what these officers and their dogs do every day, and how heavy their responsibilities can be. Nicole “Cole” Jamieson has a new job and a new companion (a dog name Hugo). And then she’s handed a unique opportunity – an undercover job in which she can do a lot of good and impress her superiors, too. The catch is that the other officer involved is her ex-husband Agent Scott Lucca, now a K-9 officer too. To say their relationship ended badly is putting it mildly, and to say Scott has baggage is also an understatement. Force of Attraction puts them at serious risk of being killed . . . and of falling in love again.
 

Louise Welsh’s A Lovely Way to Burn is a fascinating book, but a melancholy one. Londoner Stevie Flint, who makes her living selling frivolous things on television, becomes convinced her lover, Dr. Simon Sharkey, was murdered. But London is in the midst of a pandemic called “The Sweats.” Who cares about one murder when so many people are dying? Beautiful Stevie becomes a serious person of determination as people all around her are dying. This is really an impressive novel. I could not put it down.
 

I also read a first draft of a Leigh Perry mystery (you’re gonna love it!) and read my friend Max Austin’s book Duke City Desperado, which is an ebook written for Random House’s Alibi imprint. I’m not completely certain when this book will be for sale, but if you love a caper-gone-wrong novel, you’ll love this book. Max Austin is an old buddy of mine writing under another name, but under any name he’s funny as hell.
 

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to convince myself to get up in the morning I go over my week in my head. It was hard to convince myself that this morning was Sunday, because I went to church yesterday — granted, it was a funeral I attended, not a real service, but I already felt “churched.” I had to persuade myself it was truly Sunday.
 

Tomorrow I have a phone interview at 4 p.m. CST. Tuesday I have a dental appointment at 9:45. Wednesday-Friday, clear so far. BFF Paula arrives on Friday night, we work on Saturday and I have a radio interview at 12:30. Sunday I am supposed to go to a tea, a fund-raiser for animal rescue.
 

Of course, ALL WEEK I have to write and write and write. I’m heading into the home stretch for “Night Shift,” though not as close to the finish line as I’d hoped to be. There will be no free moments.
 

So that’s the week in anticipation. It’s my easiest week for a month or more, I think. Late April, May, and June are very busy for me. That is the norm, since I’ve had a May book for the last fifteen years.
 

It’s really easier when you can count on that at the beginning of the year, when I’m deciding which conventions I’m going to attend and the speaking engagements I’ll accept. I know now that May and June are always busy, that I don’t like accepting much of anything from November through February, and so on.
 

I’m trying to train myself to say “no” more often, but I had a few moments of weakness this year, and as a result I have about three more events than I like to have. In 2016, I’ll be tougher!
 

Charlaine Harris

Day Shift

Day Shift

Book 2 Midnight Texas series

Book 2 of the Midnight Texas series.
 

Ace, May 5, 2015, (Hardcover) ISBN-10: 0425263193, ISBN-13: 978-0425263198
 

Purchase from Amazon| Purchase from Barnes and Noble
 

“In Midnight Crossroad, Charlaine Harris “capture[d] the same magic as the world of Bon Temps, Louisiana, and [took] it to another level” (Houston Press). Now the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels returns to the one-traffic-light town you see only when you’re on the way to someplace else…”

March 30, 2015

Books of the Week:

  • Past Tense, Catherine Aird
  • Poison Fruit, Jacqueline Carey
  • The Shifting Price of Prey, Suzanne McLeod

It’s only fair to remark that I got about a third of the way through a mystery when I realized I just didn’t care about any of the characters enough to continue, though I recognized it was well-written. That happens sometimes. I find that the older I get, the less obliged I feel to continue a book if it doesn’t spark that excitement in me. But I gave it a fair shot, which is all a writers asks . . . at least, all this writer asks.
 

Catherine Aird has written book after book, and her they’re always worth reading.  Detective Chief Inspector Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby (the bane of Sloan’s existence from below, just as his superior, Police Superintendent Leeyes, is from above) are handed a very strange case in Past Tense. Josephine Short, a nursing home resident, has died, and when her relatives are informed of this, though they live in the same county, they had not known she was anywhere near. Very odd! And it gets odder, when yet another unknown relative arrives to share in the inheritance. Though it’s not terribly hard to figure out whodunit, the journey is more amusing than the destination.
 

Poison Fruit is by far my favorite of Jacqueline Carey’s Hel books. If you’ve been following the adventures of Daisy Johanssen, you’ll know Daisy, who is half demon, is the liaison between the domain of Hel and town of Pemkowet. She works at the police department, which makes its own kind of sense. Aside from having a tail, Daisy is a very likeable and ordinary young woman, but she’s become something more as she assumes her responsibility seriously. Another hell-spawn, a lawyer, is buying up important land in Pemkowet for an unknown party. Daisy is rightly suspicious when the land just happens to be adjacent to Hel. To come out on top of this situation, Daisy has to confront the thing she fears the most, and conquer it. She also has to resolve her confusing love life.
 

Suzanne McLeod is a friend of mine, though we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like (I’m assuming she’d say the same!). I was shocked to find out one of her Spellcracker books, The Shifting Price of Prey, had hidden from me on my own To Be Read bookcase. So not only did I have an unexpected book to read, but it was considerably longer than the others in McLeod’s series about Genevieve (Genny), who is now running a company which can solve your magical problem. Genny cannot perform magic, but she can break (crack) spells. I do NOT recommend letting this be your first Spellcracker book. It would be better to start at the beginning to maximum enjoyment out of Prey. There are a lot of elements in this book that original in previous ones: the fae’s fertility problem, Genny’s persecution by the head vampire of London, the ousting of the police witch who tried to kill her. Though McLeod does a great job of filling the reader in, knowing the characters is a big plus, and this is a complicated book, with Genny ricocheting from crisis to crisis with different powers and at least three goals. It’s well worth the prep work!

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Travelling time is coming up. And this year, I have a new suitcase! I travel so much that I buy my luggage for visibility, not durability.
 

This started about six years ago, when my hard-working black suitcase wore out. I swore I would never get another one like it.
 

I looked at a lot of websites until I found a suitcase I could spot across the room without my glasses on. This hard-sided suitcase was supposed to look like the hide of a white and tan cow (perhaps), and it provoked a lot of comment. When I would tell a driver, “You can’t miss it,” I would actually mean that. I never saw another suitcase like it, though logically I knew mine had not been the only one manufactured, until one very strange night in Shreveport when four rolled out on the baggage carousel. Four. Identical. Suitcases. In this freaky pattern. Three were empty. The fourth one was mine. I have never understood or been able to imagine the story behind that.
 

My next bag, the one just deceased, was aqua and brown and had tan and black circles on it. It was a good size and I could spot it (though not from the next planet, as I had the first one). Unfortunately, I took it out of the country a few times, and it was cloth. It began to show wear and tear, and a zipper got cranky, and one of the plastic feet. Then it frayed. Goodbye, circle bag!
 

My new one is imitation crocodile. At least, I am pretty sure that crocodiles don’t come in burgundy. I think it is beautiful, though a bit small. (Maybe I’ll see if I can get a larger model, too.) Crocodile bag is about as conspicuous as the circle bag, but it seems to inspire more respect. It also attracts more admiration than the cow bag. I’m all for that!
 

If there’s ever a company that makes a diagonally striped suitcase in green and blue . . . could you have them give me a call? I’ll be glad to test it for them.
 

Charlaine Harris