Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Nero Wolfe

Now that we're all done with Thanksgiving dinner and preparing to tuck into leftovers today, I'd thought I'd choose a book that celebrates food along with a really good mystery.

Enter Nero Wolfe. Fifty-six-year-old (a fact you may have not known!) overweight detective genius from Montenegro (although his birthplace was changed to the U.S. for one book)who liked good food (especialy shad roe), beer (about 6 quarts a day), orchids and his luxurious brownstone on West 35th Street in New York City. Wolfe employed:

Archie Goodwin--Nero's "legman", a PI who can recite verbatim entire conversations. He does the bulk of the investigating (because Wolfe doesn't like to leave home) and drinks a lot of milk. He's also responsible for mundane office tasks, like opening the mail. Archie lives rent-free at the brownstone.

Fritz Brenner--Nero's talented Swiss cook

Theodore Horstmann--an orchid expert who lives on the roof of the brownstone who helps Nero daily with his plants from 9:00-11 am and 4:00-6:00 pm.

There are also three private eyes that Wolfe hires to help out: Saul Panzer, Fred Durkin, Orrie Cather. And remember Lon Cohen, the reporter?

And Nero is soooo eccentric with his yellow pyjamas, his inflexible schedule, his dislike of women, the way he closes his eyes and pushes his lips in and out when thinking.

Just typing these names and bits of description brings back so many fond memories for me. There wasn't a Nero Wolfe mystery I didn't enjoy. Not one. From the first one, Fer-de-Lance (1934), to the last, Death Times Three (1977).

Rex Stout wrote 33 Nero Wolfe books and 39 short stories. Journalist Robert Goldsborough wrote seven Wolfe books after Stout's death.

Oh, I am homesick for a Nero Wolfe. I'll have to re-read one. I've never read one of Golsborough mysteries. Perhaps I should do that. And I think I might ask for The Nero Wolfe Cookbook (it has 237 recipes!) for Christmas. It was also written by Rex Stout.

And I leave you with a super quotation:

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."~~Ray Bradbury

Please pop over to Patti Abbott at pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. It's always a fantastic line-up.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Introducing the real McCoy!!!

Look what arrived in the mail!

I So Don't Do Mysteries. The book. The actual printed book. The real McCoy.

With a pretty bow and a beautiful letter from my editor.


I'm practically speechless.

Tuesday, December 9 is almost here. When she launches into the world. Wow.

Here she is without the bow.               And without the dust jacket.

A now for a little trivia....Where does the expression "the real McCoy" come from?

According to
"Elijah McCoy was the son of former slaves who had fled from Kentucky before the U.S. Civil War. Educated in Scotland as a mechanical engineer, Elijah McCoy returned to the United States and settled in Detroit, Michigan. He began experimenting with a cup that would regulate the flow of oil onto moving parts of industrial machines.

His first invention was a lubricator for steam engines, U.S. 129,843, which issued on July 12, 1872. The invention allowed machines to remain in motion to be oiled; his new oiling device revolutionized the industrial machine industry. Elijah McCoy established his own firm and was responsible for a total of 57 patents.

The term "real McCoy" refers to the oiling device used for industrial machinery. His contribution to the lubricating device became so popular that people inspecting new equipment would ask is the device contained the real McCoy. This helped popularize the American expression, meaning the real thing. His other inventions included an ironing board and lawn sprinkler."

FOURTEEN DAYS until I So Don't Do Mysteries hits the shelves! The countdown is almost over!

I may perhaps have mentioned you can pre-order the book? I know, I'm subtle that way.

To pre-order online, you go here for the US and here for Canada.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Town Monday: Palm Springs, CA

I was away yet again this weekend. I know, I know, it's becoming a disease; I fly the coop every Friday. Anyway, this weekend saw me, Child #3 and Child #4 in Palm Springs, CA for a swim meet.

I love Palm Springs, this desert city of about 43,000 people (depending on the time of year) that's surrounded on three sides by mountains. Palm Springs is about 130 miles northeast of San Diego. Almost every day is sunny. And many days are windy. Sonny Bono has been the most famous mayor.

There's quite a bit to do in Palm Springs. I didn't do any of it on this trip because I was pretty much trapped at the pool watching my darling children lunge off starting blocks and swim their little hearts out. All joking aside, this was Child #4's first big swim meet and she was awesome with her pink goggles and turquoise flip-flops. Plus, she really poured on the steam, her skinny eight-year-old arms and legs working overtime. A brave little girl, she even swam the butterfly!

Back to the topic at hand. A very popular attraction is the aerial tramway which zooms you up to the top of San Jacinto Peak (the highest spot in the San Jacinto Mountains which is the 3rd highest mountain range in the state) in about nine minutes. There's the botanical gardens and cactarium and shopping, golf, hiking, yummy eateries. How about some spa time? Personally, I'm up for the whole Head to Toe Indulge. Also, you can take a tour of a windmill farm.Palm Springs is windy. The winds blow west to east in the morning and east to west in the afternoon. There's enough wind that the windmill farm powers Palm Springs and then some. For about $65, you can take a three-hour coach ride to visit the San Andreas Fault. Then again, there's plain old R&R around the pool, with or without libations.

All of this is entertaining and exciting and enticing. Some of it I've done and some is still on my to-do list.

But here's what I REALLY want to do in Palm Springs...

The International Film Festival. Sigh. Unfortunately, I can never figure out a way to escape for a week in January. Despite the fact that I'd be an excellent Palm Springs International Film Festival blogger. I love artsy films. I'd write up all manner of reviews. Plus LA is only about 100 miles away. So, you know there'd be scads of famous actors milling about. I look so nice and normal and non-paparazzi, that I'd be a super successful star stalker (who doesn't skimp on alliteration!).

DH has zero interest in non-Bruce Willis-type movies and even less interest in star gazing. So, some of you people will have to join me instead. Maybe when my kids are a little older?

Now pop on over to to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our Fearless Leader for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers. And, unlike myself, they'll all have posted in a timely fashion!

And if I haven't visited your blog recently, it's only because I'm way way over-extended. Not a lack of love. Not at all.

Sources: Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism, Wikipedia, Southpoint Travel Guide, Palm Springs Int'l Film Festival

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Wrapping up CLA + Theft

At a Chinese restaurant in San Jose: (left to right) Zu Vincent (THE HAPPY PLACE), me, Stacy Nyikos (DRAGON WISHES), PJ Hoover (THE EMERALD TABLET) Hoover. We missed you at dinner, Courtney Scheinmel (MY SO-CALLED FAMILY).

CLA (the California Library Association) went super well! No one fell over. No one broke out in hives. All the electronic junk worked--powerpoints, book trailers. In four words: we were a hit!

One faux pas: not one of us remembered to take a group picture. :(

PJ Hoover blogged about our CLA weekend. She has a particularly upscale bathroom shot.

Guess what else happened this weekend? DH and I became the victims of credit card theft! Yikes!

I talked to the credit card company Sunday evening around 11. They believe a counterfeit credit card was used to purchase:

         $ 432 worth of merchandise at Walmart in Oakland
         $   13.78 at a game store in Oakland
         $ 400 worth of gas at a station in Bakersfield (although a hold was put on the card after $100)

That is not a very imaginative thief. No trips to Hawaii or Paris. No diamond rings. No books.

Child #3's theory: The thief is a truck driver, getting ready for a long haul. So, he bought a bunch of gas, new clothes and snacks at Walmart and a video game.

It's all very creepy. On the upside, we're not responsible for the fraud purchases.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Town Monday: San Jose, CA

Greetings from San Jose, CA! I'm up here with four fellow class of 2k8ers (in alpha order): PJ Hoover (author of THE EMERALD TABLET), Stacy Nyikos (DRAGON WISHES), Courtney Scheinmel (MY SO-CALLED FAMILY) and Zu Vincent (THE HAPPY PLACE).

So far, we've chatted. Drunk wine. Chatted. Eaten Chinese for dinner. Chatted some more.

Don't worry, fellow 2k8ers, your SCANDALOUS secrets are safe with me!

We're on a panel at the California Library Association's Annual Conference. Which means that, tomorrow morning, I will be standing up and speaking for FIFTEEN whole minutes. Thank goodness I have a very cute power point presentation.

Totally ignoring the evening-before public-speaking jitters, I'm posting about a fun house to visit here in California's 3rd largest city.

Winchester Mystery House

Some interesting facts about the Winchester Mystery House:

Wealthy widow Sarah Winchester, heiress to the Winchester Rifle fortune, began building on this house in 1884.

Construction continued for THIRTY-EIGHT years.

There are 160 rooms in this Victorian mansion.

This house is bizarre, with features like staircases that lead to the ceiling.

The house was built without any master plan, so it's quite the hodge podge.

Building costs were about $5.5 million.

The Winchester House is HAUNTED by people who were killed by Winchester rifles.

You can have your birthday party here.

If you're interested in visiting:

525 S Winchester Blvd
San Jose, CA 95120
(408) 247-2101

Sorry if this isn't my best MTM post. But think of the pressure I'm under. Speaking engagement tomorrow. Holder of SCANDALOUS secrets. Please please cut me some slack. So... I'm off to get my beauty sleep. Think of me (and the rest of the 2k8 gang who are in San Jose) at about 10:30 am Pacific time. Cross your fingers that I don't fall over in a dead faint.

Now, go directly to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books: Perry Mason

Before I start my post for Friday's Forgotten Books, I'd like to give a BIG shout-out to David Cranmer of The Education of a Pulp Writer who totally made my day! Child #3 and I stopped in at The Yellow Book Road to drop off some book launch/signing postcard-invitations. Mary, the co-owner, informed me that David had called to order a signed copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries! Yowzer!

And onto Friday's Forgotten Books (how's that for an abrupt transition?). While at Aunt Agatha's bookstore in Ann Arbor,Michigan, I picked up a used copy of The Case of the Sleep-Walker's Niece (EIGHTEENTH printing, 1965, original price of 50 cents) by Erle Stanley Gardner. It is so wonderful to be back in the company of defense attorney Perry Mason, his confidential secretary and love interest Della Street, his private eye Paul Drake, switchboard operator Gertie Lade, Lieutenant Tragg. It's even a pleasure to re-visit District Attorney Hamilton Burger.

Why did I stop reading Perry Mason? He puts me in such a good mood. I should gobble up one a week. And how about Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Ah ha! Another post for another Friday!

Some fun facts about Perry Mason: He's in over EIGHTY novels and short stories. He loves a difficult case. He shines in a courtroom. He lives in an apartment and likes to eat out, especially steak. We know nothing about his background or childhood. I personally feel that he strung Della Street along. But that could just be me.

Some fun facts about Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970): He got kicked out of law school after about a month for fighting. He worked as a typist in a law office, studied law BY HIMSELF, then took the bar and PASSED. He hung out a shingle at THE AGE OF 21 YEARS in Merced, CA. He practiced law until 1933 when The Case of the Velvet Claws was published. He wrote under his own name and SEVEN pseudonyms. He loved the courtroom and steak. He married his longtime secretary (as in, she worked for him for over THIRTY years) when he was SEVENTY-NINE and she was SIXTY-SIX. I think they were waiting for his first wife to die. That Erle Stanley Gardner was some kind of brilliant and some kind of character.

Please pop over to Patti Abbott at pattinase's blog for links to other posts for Friday's Forgotten Books. It's always a fantastic line-up.

Sources: Wikipedia,,

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Heartfelt Thank-Yous and Book Launch/Signing

A huge huge thank-you to Virginia of The Virginia Monologues. Virginia sent me a copy of her blog's template. Without that, I would never ever have figured out why the buttons and post titles weren't working on my blog. Seriously, you should've seen me comparing the html, line by line. I'm a closet engineer!

A shout-out also to PJ Hoover, author of The Emerald Tablet and fellow 2k8 classmate. PJ felt the panic through my email and checked out the blog html. It's so great having a techie you can count on!

I'm completely happy with the blog. Just love the design. Goofy Girl did an amazing job. And now that the buttons are working, I could hang out here all day long. But, uh, no, I can't. Life won't let me.

December brings an event that will be fun and nerve-racking all at the same time. Oh yeah, and there's Christmas too.

Here's the invitation to my real-life signing/launch party. Wow. This means it's really happening. As in, be there or be square. As in, I'll be doing a reading. Yikes. I guess it's totally cheating if I have Child #4 read for me? She is good, though. And she has shoes for it.

This is the front of the postcard. If you think it looks exactly like the front cover of I So Don't Do're absolutely right. Love that cover.

Here's the back of the post card. It's actually very clear in real life.

Of course, you're all cordially invited. It's at The Yellow Book Road, San Diego's indie children's bookstore. We're having an Open House, Sat., Dec. 20, 3-6pm. With wine, cheese & crackers, kid snacks and door prizes.

We could definitely have some blogger fun, couldn't we?

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Town Monday: Ann Arbor, MI

If you are even thinking you might be in the mood for a mystery and you're within, say, fifty miles of Ann Arbor, Michigan, head over to Aunt Agatha's. It is THE bookstore for new and used mystery, detection and true crime books.

I had the BEST conversation ever about Nancy Drew (you can imagine how much fun I am at a cocktail party) with owner, Jamie. Did you know the yellow cover Nancy Drews were edited and "dumbed down" from the blue cover editions?

And see below for the treasures I found.

I know. It's incredible!

The blue cover edition of The Hidden Staircase (1930). This just happens to be my favorite-of-all-times Nancy Drew.

The blue cover edition of The Secret in the Old Attic (1944). I started reading this on the plane. It's so not PC for these days with its references to dancing pickaninnies and crooning mammies. (Seriously. You can't take that Bess anywhere.)

Trixie Belden and the Gatehouse Mystery (1951)

And a book starring the lawyer who never disappoints: Perry Mason in The Case of the Sleep-Walker's Niece (1936)

And guess what I left behind? Bookmarks and an Advance Reader Copy of I So Don't Do Mysteries which Jamie has promised to buy for Aunt Agatha's in TWENTY-EIGHT days (not that I'm counting or x'ing off days on the calendar because I am far too cool (not) for that) when it's released.

Here's the link to Aunt Agatha's. It's a fun website to poke around.

Now, go directly to Travis Erwin's blog. He's our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers. And, unlike myself, they'll all have posted in a timely fashion!

p.s. I did not take the photo at the top of the post. I could've taken a pic of Aunt Agatha's. I could've asked Jamie to take a pic of me and my sisters in front of Aunt Agatha's. But, oh no. I was too busy chatting and browsing to remember to pull my camera out of my purse!

p.p.s. It's launch week for Stacy A. Nyikos and her debut fantasy middle-grade novel Dragon Wishes. You might as well get in the habit of checking out the Class of 2k8's blog because I KNOW you'll be hanging out over there for my launch week Monday, Dec, 8 through Friday, December 12. I'm starting to nag now...

Testing, testing...just ignore

Just go about your business and have a wonderful and productive day. And don't worry about those of us going crazy with frustration at trying to make the buttons and the post titles work in this cute new format. Hopefully, all will be well very very soon! And my My Town Monday post will be up!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hello Ann Arbor, Michigan!

Here's my wonderful athlete!

We're here at the Speedo Cup!

Child #3 and his team won their first game handily. They played soooo well. Child #3 played great defense, had a couple of assists and a beautiful goal.

My sisters are driving across the border from Canada as I type. We'll be having dinner together after the next game!

And the leaves are still turning here. A site I haven't seen in years.

Don't you love the new look of the blog? Thank you to Goofy Girl! (link at bottom of sidebar). Don't worry about the buttons at the top; we're still sorting them out.

Will check in later. I'm racing off to a game. And, oh yeah, wearing THE jeans!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Jean Shopping

Yesterday I bit the bullet and did something very difficult. Very very difficult.

I went shopping for jeans.

As many of you know, Child #3 and I are going to Michigan on Thursday. His water polo team is playing in the prestigious Speedo Cup. I understand it's chillier there than down here in So Cal. And I wanted to take a new pair of jeans.

It took NINETY-SIX minutes to find ONE pair of jeans. Back and forth to that tiny beige change room, it was some kind of crazy aerobic workout. From Gloria Vanderbilt to Levis to Liz to brands I'd never heard of before. Boot cut and straight leg and stretch and classic fit. I even tried a pair with a zipper the size of my baby finger.

I was on the verge of giving up. Time was running out; Child #3 and Child #4 were coming to the end of their school day. Not to mention it's kind of demoralizing to see how many brands and styles of jeans can manage to make you look deformed.

And then I found them. The perfect pair of jeans. They're so perfect I could even wear them for Thursday's long day of travel.

Actually, I would've found them sooner if I'd just slowed down and read the label.

See? It says "Crafted from premium denim for STRENGTH, SOFTNESS AND CHARACTER."

Exactly what I was looking for. Strength, Softness and character.

AND they were on sale.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Town Monday: Tom Ham's Lighthouse

Before I start our regular programming, I'd like to point you over to the Class of 2k8's blog where we're celebrating a week-long launch for middle grade author PJ Hoover and her sci fi The Emerald Tablet.

It's that time of the week again. And today I'm posting about one of my very favorite San Diego restaurants: Tom Ham's Lighthouse.

Built in 1971, it has an actual functioning coast-guard operated lighthouse (Beacon #9) attached to it. From a window or outside seat, you can see the San Diego Bay, San Diego skyline, North Island and the Coronado Bridge. You might also see seals, dolphins, pelicans and, if you're really lucky, a whale. Here's a great tip for you: the best view is from Table #109.

Dress is casual. After all, this IS So Cal. The Queen of England could show up in jeans, and no one would judge. Lunch meals are $10-$15. Dinner meals will run you $31 to $50. There's a Sunday champagne brunch for about $25. And on Wednesdays 1/2 price bottles of wine.

I always get the shrimp diablo which is stuffed jumbo Gulf shrimp, wrapped in bacon. To die for. The service is very good too. There are waiters who have worked at the restaurant for a decade. They know what they're doing.

An additional bit of trivia: Tom Ham's Lighthouse is located on Harbor Island. This island was formed in 1961 of sand and mud (more than 12 million cubic yards of the stuff) when the Navy dredged San Diego Bay to deepen it for military ships.

Here's the link to the restaurant if you want to check it out. Don't be put off by the hunk of steak on their opening page. The food really is terrific.

2150 Harbor Island Dr
San Diego, CA 92101-1084
Phone: (619) 291-9110

The DH and I went to Tom Ham's last night with four friends. Great friends, great food, great vista. Life is good.

Please visit Travis Erwin, our big kahuna boss for My Town Mondays. He'll have a MTM post up himself plus a list of links to other Mondayers.


Shrimp Diablo on Foodista

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Halloween Post

I really should not be blogging. Not at all. I have a million trillion things to do and throwing in a blog post this weekend is not on the list.

BUT...we had such fun trick or treating last night that I just had to share.

Child #1 is well beyond the trick or treating stage.
Child #2 had two water polo games. Don't even get me started...
Child #3 wanted to give out candy only.

So, Child #4 (dressed as the most beautiful angel in San Diego and, no, I am not biased) and I trundled off into the night. Can I just say that Child #4 and I should NEVER AGAIN be left to our own devices on Halloween. We trick or treated for HOURS AND HOURS AND MILES AND MILES. We walked a REALLY LONG DISTANCE, only to stand on the curb and gawk at a haunted house. We did not join the throngs of people going in for a fright. We know our limits.

We came home with very tired and aching legs and feet. And...

NINE POUNDS of candy! Yes, we weighed it. Because that's the type of trick or treaters we are.

And this is very probably why Child #4 scored SO MUCH candy...

It was the SHOES!

And I leave you with a shot of Dorothy the Witch/Dog. A total misnomer as Dorothy is quite likely the sweetest, most docile poodle ever to be found on Craig's List.

p.s. Any Canadians out there still saying "Shelling out"?