Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Do you like to dip into noir sometimes?

I sure do. Not sure what that says about me, but there it is.

I can go along writing cozy and traditional, I can dial my time machine way back and write about life 28,000 years ago, for a while. But then I have to bust out and write dark.

My dark writing isn’t as inky as some people’s, but it’s liberating for me to cross the lines. To use language that real people use—language that hasn’t been cleaned up for the kids or for publication. Come on, you know what I mean. Language that I learned in the tractor factory and at college. Both places run neck and neck for that sort of thing.

I can also write about the kinds of people I knew when I waited tables in places where you don’t get much in the way of tips. People I knew when I worked as a nurse’s aide. Good, solid, working people, but people without varnish.

Maybe this is because I didn’t grow up very far from the wrong side of the tracks, and had friends on the other side. My cousins and I were the first generation to go to college, so our veneer isn’t always that thick. Most of the sororities at Northwestern, where I went on scholarship, didn’t ask me back after they learned that my dad was an electrician. Blue collar is part of who I am, a big part.

Anyway, my story that is coming out in November from Akashic in MEMPHIS NOIR was very fun to write, and uses that part of me. The story is called “Heartbreak at Graceland” and I’d love to know if you like my murder method as much as I do. The book is available for preorder, so you can find out soon.

(Goodness, I didn’t know this was going to turn into the biography of my early life.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE is being published in hardcover by Untreed Reads. I’m so excited about this! It’s a one-time thing, limited edition of 250 copies, and all copies will be signed by me. The order period is through August, unless the 250 sell out before then.

This book was nominated for an Agatha Award for best historical novel.

They will ship in September, or earlier if they sell out before August 31st.  

You ARE allowed to order multiple copies if you think these would make good gifts (in case you’re thinking ahead to the holidays). Shoot me an email if you want multiple copies and I’ll let the publisher know. I think the page lets you order just one.

I’m VERY excited that my publisher is doing this! Oh, I already said that. It’s true, doubly true, I guess. Here’s the link: 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Another Branch in My Road

 No, I haven’t been traveling. That isn’t why I haven’t posted in forever. I’ve been busy working on the sequel to DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE.

Just to tease you, I’ll tell you I’ve also spent a lot of time in research: giant ground sloths, Denisovans, Homo floresiensis, Ice Age jaguars, and mugwort, to name some of my subjects. 

This week there was an exciting development! (Aside from someone getting murdered and Hamapa tribe having a hard time on their trek, and Enga Dancing Flower having her own troubles, that is.)

The contract with Untreed Reads was completed—signed and counter-signed! Publication date is June of 2016. I’m thrilled to have this official, although it’s been an unofficial agreement for some time.

Now I’ll need to give them ideas for the cover. Any suggestions?

restoration picture from Wikipedia

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Giveaway and (maybe) a Short Story Coming Up

As Janet Cantrell, my other writing name, I’m giving away 15 copies of FAT CAT SPREADS OUT on Goodreads. The giveaway started on the 15th and will go through midnight on the 31st. You still have time, but don’t delay too long!

If you want a sure thing, you can pre-order this very minute. Preorders count for a lot with my publisher, and preorders on the second book are crucial for continuing the series. If you’d like to see the Fat Cat series keep going after the third book (which will come out in March, 2016), a preorder would help out.

I had the great honor of being asked to write a short story! This has happened in the past, but it’s been a while since the last time. This short is for a Killer Nashville anthology. They’ve contracted with Diversion Books for a series of anthologies. The first will appear in October. If my story is accepted, it will appear in a volume where it fits the theme. The general instruction was to have a twist at the end and that’s something I always love to write! People who have attended Killer Nashville were asked to contribute. Some of the proceeds will go to Killer Nashville charities. My fingers are crossed that I’ll make it into one of them!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Tardy Report on Malice

(This is cross-posted at

I packed in at lot at Malice this year! And still managed to miss a bunch of stuff I would have liked to attend.

I arrived 5 minutes too late to register Thursday night, checked in, and schmoozed in the bar for a bit. Friday I hit the ground running!
A picture by my daughter, Jessica, of the nice themed display by the hotel.

I did Malice Go Round as Janet Cantrell. 
Here’s Robin Templeton’s picture of the whole group.

Also from Robin, me and my MGR partner, Maria Hudgins. No comment on our expressions, please. We were being expressive.

Right after Malice Go Round was the Guppy lunch. These are from Susan Van Kirk's Malice report:

 I rushed back to attend part of the New Kids on the Block panel of the Best First Novel Nominees (Annette Dashofy, Sherry Harris, Susan O’Brien, Terrie Farley Moran, and Tracy Weber). I also got to a bit of the Historical Nominees panel. This panel was exactly the same as when I was on it, except for the addition of D. E. Ireland (Meg Mims and Sharon Pisacreta) where I sat. The others were Rhys Bowen, Victoria Thompson and Charles Todd (mother and son).

After that, I needed to go stick my bookmarks in the green room. I wanted to hear a 4:00 panel, but decided to take a small break and get ready for the dinner at Ruth’s Chris that Berkley Prime Crime treated us to. After the dinner there was a short meeting of the people on our panel for the next day.

Fell into bed exhausted.

Up for the 7:30 Sisters in Crime Breakfast, where the Guppies all wore our boas, or facsimiles thereof. Mine was a green net scarf. Here’s Kathy Waller with her version.

Kathy, I think, had just taken this shot of me.

Short meeting of the Chapter Presidents afterward where I sat in for the Guppy president, who couldn’t be at Malice this year.

At 11:30 I met my agent, Kim Lionetti, to talk about my project(s) with them. Always a pleasure!

Then I thought I had better get in my vote for the nominees before the voting ended at 1:00.

I had a sandwich from the bar that didn’t agree with me, but the hotel shop, luckily, carried a tiny bottle of Pepto. I got the last one!

The interview of Sara Paretsky by Parnell Hall was a hoot, but also informative. That was over at about 2, then our panel was at 3.

The panel, The Paws that Refresh, consisted of writers who have pets in their mysteries. The day before, Carole Nelson Douglas emailed that she was having problems with a medication and wouldn’t make it. Our moderator, Laura Morrigan, got Liz Mugavero to step in at the last minute. She joined me, John Clement, and Linda O. Johnston, and we pulled it off, I think!

After my signing it got crazy. The Guppy Steering Committee sort of and sort of didn’t meet before the banquet. I was delighted that my husband and daughter were able to sit with me at one of the Berkley tables.

Jessica took a panorama of the table. She has a cool camera. The people who moved look odd, though.

Here’s the dessert! These pictures are from Jessica again.

Fell into bed exhausted.

I missed getting up in time for the New Authors breakfast, which I regret. But I did get to the 9:30 meeting with my Berkley editor, Michelle Vega. She presented me with a copy of Fat Cat Spreads Out, even though it’s not being released until June 2nd!

Somewhere in there, I was able to visit the Wildside table and see our anthology, Murder on Wheels, by the Austin Mystery Writers. Three of us were attending, me, Laura Oles, and Kathy Waller.

Me and Laura Oles

Our good friend and supporter, Nancy West, bought a copy of Murder on Wheels!

LynDee Walker, me, Nancy West with our book and with Larissa Reinhart on a stick

Went to our daughter’s on Sunday to stay for a few days and flew home Wednesday.

Fell into bed exhausted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Traveling to Bethesda!

Malice Domestic Mystery Convention

I'm nearly packed for Malice Domestic! Very excited to go, even though there's no nomination for me this year. I'm not even very nervous about my panel (The Paws that Refresh, Saturday, 3:00, if you're going, too). Maybe I've done enough of them by now.

Here's a story about my very first panel at a mystery conference. It was a short-lived conference in Plano, TX. It drew very good names, but only lasted a few years. I was attending as an unpublished mystery writer. I knew a few of the writers, though, some online and some in person.

There was a panel about to start and I was in the hallway outside the room. Cindy Daniel came up to me and said the panel was short a person and I had to fill in. I couldn't possibly do that! I'd never been on one! And I wasn't published. And the topic wasn't something I touched on in my books. She almost literally shoved me up the steps to the table and there I was--on a mystery panel.

As best I remember, the topic was prayer, or maybe religion, in mysteries. There was no overt prayer in the one I was writing. That one is published as EINE KLEINE MURDER now, by Barking Rain Press. But my character is a moral person. I might have said something like, she was brought up going to Sunday School and church, and prays, but it's not spelled out in the book. I must have said some other things about writing--or something.

When it was over, I was surprised that several people wanted to talk to me and said they liked what I had said. I think I might have been able to sell a book or two--if I 'd had any.

After that terrifying introduction to being on a mystery panel, there's never been another one as scary. Thanks, Cindy, for starting me out right.

No post next week, and maybe not the week after. But I WILL be back.

(Cross posted at

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Few Crazy Things

I’ve gathered together a few possibilities for blogs, but realize that just one isn’t enough for a blog. So I’m giving you several of them.

First of all, this gift idea for writers—or anyone who jots down notes. Don’t ask me what waterproof paper is! 8 people gave glowing testimonials, although not one would give a complete name, I noticed.

Second, exploding butter.
I’ll add that I’ve melted butter in pyrex in the microwave for years and have never had this happen. Still waiting for this big excitement!

Now that vinyl is making a comeback, how about a portablerecord player?

Electrified water never caught on

Before e-readers, there was the Fiske Reading Machine. It never quite caught on.

Hope you enjoy this collection of oddities!