Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Whimsey Give-Away!

Tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 20th, I'll be doing a guest blog at my friend Joanna Campbell Slan's place -

And, I'll be giving away one copy of WHIMSEY.

I hope you'll take a minute to drop by and say "Hey!"

Monday, February 18, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rock-n-Roll by Deborah Crombie

Deborah Crombie writes the Superintendent Duncan Kincaid/Inspector Gemma James British crime novels.Follow her on Twitter @deborahcrombie.

Born in Texas, Crombie has lived in both England and Scotland, and now divides her time between her historic home in McKinney, Texas, and the UK.
Awards include  - Macavity Best First Novel, A Share in Death. Macavity Best Novel, Dreaming of the Bones. Macavity Best Novel, Where Memories Lie. New York Times Notable Book, Dreaming of the Bones. IMBA Best 100 Crime Novels of the Century, Dreaming of the Bones.



What is it about guitars that makes them so sexy, especially electric guitars?

Is it the sinuous shape? Or the associations with all those really cool lead guitar players? Or maybe a bit of both?

Unless you’re a musician, most likely you don’t go gaga over pianos, or violins. But guitars—anyone can fall head over heels for guitars. My slide into guitar fan-girl was unanticipated.

A character named Andy Monahan walked onto the page three books ago, in Where Memories Lie. He was a witness, invented to give two of my detective, Scotland Yard Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, some information about the death of a primary character.  Andy was a bit player.  He had two scenes, and in the first he was coming back to his London flat after playing a band gig. When he got out of the van, he was carrying a Fender Stratocaster. Why that particular guitar, I have no idea. It was just a given.

I also knew that Andy was in his late twenties, that he was a very good musician, that he was frustrated with his band mates, and that he was discouraged with his career. I knew he had a cat. And that I liked him.

The more I thought about him, the more I wanted to know about him. Where did he come from? When, and how, did he learn to play the guitar? There was something intriguingly solitary about Andy Monahan, and I suspected that he was driven by the circumstances of his past.

In the next book, Necessary as Blood, we learn that Andy has an unexpected personal connection with Duncan and Duncan’s wife, Detective Inspector Gemma James. The stage was set to tell Andy’s story, even though it had to simmer in the background for another book.

That story comes together with Duncan and Gemma’s stories in The Sound of Broken Glass. Gemma, newly assigned to a murder squad in South London, is assigned to investigate the bizarre murder of a respected London barrister in a seedy hotel in London’s Crystal Palace area. One of the last people known to have spoken to the barrister before his death was none other than Andy Monahan. What, if any, is the connection between the two men, and how far back does it go?

Having a character like Andy appear out of nowhere and insist you write about him is one of the most gratifying things about writing. But it’s also one of the most challenging—you want to do him justice. And it can take you into areas you wouldn’t otherwise explore. I know a lot more about guitars now than I did. I have a great book called Stars and Guitars: The Guitars That Made 200 Rock Gods Famous. (Who could resist a title like that?) I know some of the guitarists who’ve played Fender Stratocasters: Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Steve Miller, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Mark Knopfler—those are just a few among many. I know something about what makes guitarists tick. I understand a little of the mechanics of electric guitars. I know what an effects pedal is.

And I know who did what, how, and why.

I know the color of Andy Monahan’s Strat—it’s Fiesta Red.

But I still haven’t learned how to play.

(This photo of me was taken in the rehearsal space in Antenna Studios, Crystal Palace, where Andy rehearses and records with his new musical partner. {Photo credit: Steve Ullathorne}And the guitar, of course, is the iconic 1959 Fiesta Red Fender Stratocaster.)

So has anyone else fallen for a guitar, or a guitarist, famous or otherwise?


February Photo a Day Challenge - Day 16

Topic of the Day

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Whimsey News and A Give-Away

The winner is Pat Browning.  
Thanks everyone for your interest.  I hope you'll all give Whimsey a try and I hope you enjoy it.
Stop back from time to time to keep up with Whimsey news.  Once the print copies are available, I'll be having another give-away.

I'm having a Whimsey Give-Away in honor of Valentine's Day.

This is for an electronic version.  The print version isn't ready yet, but we'll have another drawing for it at a later date.

But DON'T leave your comment here!!!!!! 

You'll have to go to the Whimsey Web Page -  and leave a comment and I'll toss your name into my Willie Nelson Baseball Cap (you know, Willie has a soft spot for Whimsey in his heart - he even showed up there one time for a party!  It's true!  Well, true in Whimsey fiction).  But, you'll have to read WHIMSEY: A NOVEL to learn the whole story.

And now's your chance.  For Free!

So, leave a comment and then check back here the morning of Feb. 15 to see who the winner is.

And I'm tickled pink to share these two reviews which have been posted at - - -

"Whimsey, A Novel has a cast of unforgettable characters. The Wicked Women of Whimsey, a naughty little pixie, kindly ghosts and, notably, Aunt Zoe. Romance abounds and secrets are afoot. I found this novel enchanting, entrancing and absolutely delightful. I was sorry when it ended and I'm hoping for a sequel. A wonderful read."

Dean Koontz said, in a recent article where he gives seven tips to new writers: "Minimalist writing, in the tradition of Hemingway, has been taught for so many decades that much of what is published these days lacks character and color. Metaphor, simile, all kinds of figures of speech have evaporated from much modern fiction, and many new writers have no interest in using the language in vivid and inventive ways."

Well now, hold the phone!!! There's a new kid on the block who has successfully ignored all the old rules about Keeping It Simple, and for her debut book takes us back to a time and a place that actually, like Brigadoon, never really completely existed except in some minds, but is wonderful to think about and write about and read about. You can definitely see Kaye Wilkinson Barley in every sweet and reminiscent sentence. She had fun writing this book--my criteria to keep reading when I just want to have fun reading a book, and I did.

The world she has created is so much more than it looks like at first glance because it is a world we wish we could all live in, where days are slow, you have time to sit on the front porch and watch the sunrise over the ocean in the morning, and almost everybody loves everybody. In Whimsey, there is no street crime and the folks all actually take the time to speak in complete, long, complex sentences, because in Whimsey, there's no reason to speak a five word sentence when twenty will do. This is, they tell us, the world of the Old South and it all rings true.

Rather than take you through the whole plot, I'm going to tell you about some of the things that charmed me, once I got the hang of the slower manner of the Whimsey folk and began to love them for it. That would be about three or four pages in, when I was hooked for life and sat back to enjoy this read.

First, shortly into the book Barley takes us back to the mid forties, when one woman, Emma's ancestor, who was pretty sharp with her money, decided to buy this island which was named Whimsey, and build a self-sustaining colony where struggling artists of all types could live and work advancing their talents. This island has pixies that only the town folk can see, particularly one fairly racy one (for this gentle group of women) named Earlene who goes around hiding Emma's shoes and making fairy dust fly off of Emma as she moves. We first meet Emma as a young woman, and then an older one with a bad marriage in the past, which she refuses to discuss with anyone, even her cadre of oldest and best school buddies. We have an old love affair, wrecked by misconception, and we have The Bad Person Who Does Nefarious Things. Yes! Even in Whimsey!

One of the big things about this book, which is also true of its author, is its charm. It has everything, beautifully punctuated by Old South Dialogue that is still indulged in today in some locations, even though the pace is much faster now. This is Barley's fairy tale to share with us, her dream of a kinder, gentler time and place. Her lush and detailed descriptions of just about everything in and around Whimsey evokes beauty in the reader's mind. You can feel the breeze through the window and see the curtains on the second floor billowing gently in the wind. You can taste the chocolate ganache cake she had at a very important dinner for two. You can palpably feel the love between all of these people, except for one. And Bless Kaye's Heart, she even adds in three mouth-watering recipes at the end, all of which are probably fattening. ;-)

This is a great book to take your time reading because you want to just sit back and grin and giggle at the girlfriends, especially Earlene. If I were an imaginary fairy, I would want to be Earlene, for sure, and fly around in Louboutin signature red leather-soled high heels.

I loved this book and I loved the people in it and I loved the ending.

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 14

Topic of the Day
"Love Is"

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 13

Topic of the Day
Photo by Don Barley

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Whimsey Give-Away!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm having a drawing for a free electronic version of WHIMSEY: A NOVEL.

Just scoot over the the Whimsey Webpage for details -

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 12

Topic of the Day


Monday, February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 9

Topic of the Day
"Guilty Pleasure"

Friday, February 8, 2013

2012 Agatha Awards Nominees Announced


On a personal note. wow. I am about to pop my buttons! How delightful to see so many friends' names here. 'Course, it makes it near impossible to vote . . . .
Agatha Award Nominees.
Winners will be announced at Malice Domestic in May.

Best Novel:
The Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel:
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Best Non-fiction:
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor

Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"Kept in the Dark" by Shelia Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"When Duty Calls", by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Best Historical Novel:
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 8

Topic of the Day
"Something Orange"
Photo by Don Barley

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Finally - - - wheeeeeee!

WHIMSEY came out yesterday on Kindle -
I'm a little overwhelmed by it all, and everyone's being so sweet and I can't quit crying. Happy, happy tears.

I hope you'll give Whimsey a chance, and I hope you enjoy it. It owns a large piece of my heart.

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 7


Topic of the Day

The Fat Mum Slim Topic of the Day is "My Name"


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Meet Victoria Abbott

I tried to raise her to do the right thing, but then my little girl grew up to kill people. She does it with a light touch of course, but even so.  Who would think that could happen? Of course, I must have read two hundred mysteries when I was expecting her, so I guess I’m lucky she only kills on the page.

You see, some mothers and daughters make cookies together, take a trip or join a choir,  but we decided to see if we could bump off the unsuspecting for fun and profit.

That’s what happens when you agree to collaborate with your daughter on a mystery series.  Now we’re over on the dark side together.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. I’m having too much fun.

We used to be Vic and Mum, now we’re Victoria Abbott.  We used to read mysteries, now we write them. We used to love and collect books, now we try to get inside the world of book collecting. We used to get annoyed with people, now we can turn them into characters that come to a bad end.  Crime writing: there’s no life like it.

But what of this collaboration?  How does it work?  Everyone wants to know. Sure, we’d like to know too. For us, the biggest mystery is how the first book came together.  Two different people, vast difference in ages (don’t ask) and different speaking, writing and working styles. How could that possibly succeed? Yet it did and we are very proud of The Christie Curse: the first in a book collector series hitting the stands on March 5th from Berkley Prime Crime.  The protagonist, Jordan Bingham, is a grad student in desperate need of funds who accepts a job as a research assistant to a reclusive and difficult book collector. Her task is to track down a previously unknown play by Agatha Christie. Much as she loves her attic accommodation and the wonderful food served by the cook, Senora Panetone, she’s not so happy to hear that her predecessor died mysteriously. 

The strange part is that as we near the completion of book two: The Sayers Swindle, we still don’t know how or why the collaboration functions. We just know that it does.  We’ve tried all the variations: sometimes alternating scenes, or having each one write from the point of view of a certain character and most frequently working on the telephone, acting out scenes. As weird as it may sound, that seems to be the most effective way.

It was during these phone calls that the extensive cast of Jordan Bingham’s larcenous uncles first showed up in their small kitchen behind Michael Kelly’s antiques. Uncle Mike immediately started cooking, if you can call it that. KD, anyone?

And it was during a phone call that the secret of the bi-polar cat was revealed to us.

If we are tracking the benefits of this collaboration, laughter must be the first one.  Victoria is the taller, funnier one and she continues to crack me up as she introduces whimsy and humor into the story.  She’s also the pro on vintage clothing and antiques. I am in charge of the bad food that the Kelly uncles specialize in.  

Of course, there is much pussyfooting around. Mother/daughter relationships might be full of love and hugs, but they are also fraught with peril.

Like any creative endeavor, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. We’re not sure how we got there, but we like the world we’ve created for Jordan Bingham, we get a charge out of the crotchety employer Vera Van Alst and her bag lady wardrobe. We enjoy watching Jordan squirm as a certain police officer becomes very interested in her. She’ll never be able to introduce him to that particular family of crooks.  Most of all, we’re keen to see how Jordan’s life changes and how she grows in expertise and value to her book collector boss. Naturally, we have to put her in danger and then let her use her considerable smarts to get herself out again.

We are rolling with the challenges: finding the right time to work together, keeping up the story energy, homogenizing our voices and, as always, having fun.

Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the always very funny and creative artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories. As you can see, their four miniature dachshunds are understandably outraged that a pug and some Siamese cats have wiggled their way into the series.

The Christie Curse: a book collector mystery, by Victoria Abbott
First in a new series!  Coming March 5, 2013
Victoria Abbott is Mary Jane Maffini & Victoria Maffini






February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 2

Topic of the Day

Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt Pattern


Friday, February 1, 2013

February Photo A Day Challenge - Day 1

Topic of the Day
Meat Camp Baptist Church, established in 1851,
Meat Camp, NC