Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween, Like It or Not

Well, it's Halloween, a day I loathed and dreaded as a child. This is weird because many people will tell you that I have spent my life in a fantasy world and I'm pretty darned theatrical to boot. But all that dressing up on Halloween never appealed to me.


Well, you get to put on the costume, but you don't really get to live the part. You don't get to spend days or weeks or months as a pirate or vampire or Hermione Granger. Just that one night. So there just wasn't sufficient time to really enjoy the charade.

Second, and this is undoubtedly the most crucial reason, when I was a kid, we all had to wear those cheesy plastic costumes from K-Mart or the local drugstore. I had wild curly hair (still do) - which always got horribly tangled in the elastic band. This meant my mom had to cut the band later to get it off, which usually meant getting a chunk of my hair cut out too. As if that weren' bad enough, they had those stiff masks with the elastic band to hold it on to your face. Those eyeholes on the mask never lined up right so I was always tripping over my Cinderella gown. Plus the plastic was so non-breathable, it made my face sweat. I felt like Richard Nixon in those Kennedy-Nixon debates when I wore one of those masks.

Last of all, I was a very serious and (in my mind, anyway) a very dignified child. I was way above having to go up to strangers and beg for candy from them. Plus I didn't have much of a sweet tooth. And I was almost as neurotic as my son is now, so I was convinced the candy had been spiked with razor blades or LSD. Maybe both. My mother, saintly woman, didn't really try too hard to disabuse me of this notion. I think that was because she wanted my candy. In fact, I probably would've gotten to stop trick or treating even sooner than I did, except that she had such a sweet tooth. I wonder how many kids will be forced to dress up this weekend in order to satisfy some parental craving for Hershey's Kisses? Maybe Congress could investigate and see whether this violates child labor laws.

Anyway, I'm glad I don't have to dress up anymore, and even gladder (???) that my son isn't interested in trick or treating, now that he's 13. He is, however, very theatrical, so he'll be donning not one, but two costumes this weekend. His friends want him to come to a party as Harry Potter, but he's just so over Harry this year. He wants to be Michael Jackson. Which if you think about it, is way more appropriate to the traditional Scare-tastic approach to Halloween. He's supposed to be Michael for the first half of the evening, and Harry later on. Although he is threatening to combine the two costumes and become Michael Potter, an orphaned wizard who moonwalks and wears one white glove and has a predilection for plastic surgery. Now that's scary.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Newsletter and Contest

I switched my newsletter service from Yahoo to Vertical Response. I might actually remember to send the newsletter out more often now, since it's got all kinds of cool whiz-bang graphics and formatting I can play with.

Anyway, to celebrate the arrival of the new newsletter, I'm holding a contest for subscribers. If you subscribe to my newsletter, I'll enter you in a contest to win a $10 Barnes & Noble gift certificate. Winner to be announced on Halloween.

See that box over there on the right? No? Well, scroll down a ways and you'll find it. Just enter your email address in that box to sign up for the newsletter and the contest. I promise not to flood your inbox with junk, since the newsletter will only be done quarterly. Unless I suddenly become real prolific like Nora and have a new book to announce every week. But I am way too lazy for that. So no fear of junk mail - just occasional book news, reviews, writing tips and contests.

And if you're reading this at Amazon or elsewhere, here's the link to my contact page. You can also sign up there:

Medieval Noir Returns

Did I mention I read a lot this summer? I also watched a lot of DVDs and Hulu, but we'll talk about that some other time.

Jeri Westerson was nice enough to let me have an advance copy of her wonderful new novel, Serpent in the Thorn, featuring her wonderfully tortured sleuth, Crispin Guest. Crispin is a medieval Sam Spade, although he looks more like Orlando Bloom on the cover, don't ya think? ;-)

Stripped of his title and his lands and servants after foolishly getting tangled up in a plot against then 10-year-old King Richard II, Crispin now ekes out a miserable living as "The Tracker." In fact, he's a forerunner of Sam Spade, the cynical, world-weary private eye from Noir fiction. Jeri calls her books "medieval noir," and for good reason. In attitude as well as luck (mostly all bad), Crispin is the perfect noir detective. As in her first Crispin book, there's a mysterious femme fatale who might know more than she's telling, and once again, Crispin stumbles upon an international political conspiracy that almost costs him his life.

We also get to learn a lot more about how Crispin came to such a low state. In Serpent in the Thorn, we get to meet one of his former co-conspirators in the treasonous plot against the king. Only this conspirator escaped detection and now lives the high life as captain of the king's archers. Not surprisingly, Crispin is determined to bring this former friend down and restore himself to favor with the king. The mystery involves a holy relic alleged to be the very crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ. Jeri does a fantastic job of recreating the religion-obsessed atmosphere of medieval Europe, and of exposing the hypocrisy that lay beneath that era's obsession with religious icons and faith. She paints a vivid picture of life on the mean streets of medieval London - and those streets were truly mean! This is an absorbing mystery with well-drawn characters, so pick up a copy if you enjoy historical fiction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

October is Breast Cancer Awareness

Hey everyone, just a reminder that October is breast cancer awareness month. Remember to do your self-exams every month and get an annual mammogram.

Promotion for Thirty-Nine Again is at last slowing down, and I'm hoping to get back to writing some new material soon. Mostly I'm still trying to catch up on things that fell behind while I was recuperating. The Man was a big help (the Teen Tasmanian Devil not so much) - but he did have to let a few things go. He wound up taking several weeks of saved up leave time to help around the house and be the Daddy Chauffeur and Crisis Counselor to the Teen Taz. At one point, Chauffeur Dad observed that he had pretty much had to quit his job in order to be me, only he had to be "Me Lite." His version of me did not also do freelance newspaper writing, publish a novel, and run two miles a day while chauffeuring, cooking and crisis counseling. I am also discovering the hard way that his version of me did not file things or pay bills very often or balance a checkbook!