Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Book Cover for Quicksand (Jaya Jones Book 3)

Here's the fantastic book cover the Henery Press team created for the third Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery:

I love how the new cover is perfectly suited to the new story (isn't the illustration of Mont Saint-Michel gorgeous?) but also has the same style as the first two books in the series.

Here's a teaser from the Henery Press email blast that went out this morning:

Art Thieves & Adventure

Take a trip to Paris this spring where you'll find an art thief, a con man, and an ancient treasure. (Along with a page-turning love triangle!) QUICKSAND, the third Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery, has it all. Look for the next big adventure when it releases March 10, 2015!

QUICKSAND: A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery
A thousand-year-old secret room.
A sultan's stolen treasure.
A missing French priest.
And an invitation to Paris to rekindle an old flame...

Historian Jaya Jones finds herself on the wrong side of the law during an art heist at the Louvre. To redeem herself, she follows clues from an illuminated manuscript that lead from the cobblestone streets of Paris to the quicksand-surrounded fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. With the help of enigmatic Lane Peters and a 90-year-old stage magician, Jaya delves into France's colonial past in India to clear her name and catch a killer.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, Sept. 21-27, 2014

Each year, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read. Launched in 1982 in response to an increasing number of challenges to books, Banned Books Week shines a light on the shocking number of books that are still being censored in the United States.

I'm an author who writes pretty inoffensive books and stories. Family-friendly adventure mysteries with no graphic violence, sex, or swearing (at least not stronger than the occasional "damn"). So why should I care about Banned Books Week? 

First, books as seemingly unobjectionable as A Light in the Attic have been banned. Really? A Light in the Attic? That's one of my favorite books from my childhood. I can still recite many of those wonderful poems off the top of my head. ("Batty" is perhaps my favorite.)

Here are two posters from the ACLU that illustrate the wide range of books that have been banned in the United States.

If A Light in the Attic is being banned, what else is being censored? Those posters capture only a small sampling. There are more.

Second, anything that infringes on freedom of speech is frightening. Free speech and freedom of ideas are core values of this country. Censorship isn't the answer to objectionable books. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to force you to read a certain book. At least I hope they're not. If they are, your real life story will never make its way into one of my lighthearted mystery novels. 

Third, if such a wide range of books are objectionable to someone, somewhere, what comes next? As a mystery novelist, I use some rather interesting research materials, as you can see in the photo of my bookshelf, below. Facts and ideas aren't poisonous. Like anything in life, it's what we do with them. 

My free speech water bottle on a bookshelf with research books for writing mysteries.

Therefore, as both a reader and a writer, censorship troubles me. But luckily, I'm not alone. 

The American Library Associate has a policy of not banning books from libraries. It's parents who should be involved in figuring out what's appropriate for their children, not the state. And once we're adults, we should have the freedom to choose what we want to read. 

As the Supreme Court stated: "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable." --Justice Brennan, Texas v. Johnson.

This week, the ACLU of Northern California will be running a series of blog posts on their website that explore the history of banned books along with personal stories. 

I love that there are organizations like the ACLU that defend freedom of speech and the freedom to read. 


Friday, September 19, 2014

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Ahoy! September 19 is "Talk Like A Pirate Day."

Yes, it's a real day! Sort of. As the official website says, "a goofy idea celebrated by a handful of friends has turned into an international phenomenon that shows no sign of letting up." In addition to a virtual presence, people organize everything from fundraisers to pub crawls in honor of the day.

It's true I love fictional pirates, as evidenced by my mystery novel Pirate Vishnu. But that's not the reason I find Talk Like A Pirate Day so fascinating. I think it's so great because it was a small idea shared by a few passionate friends, but it spiraled into something much larger than they ever imagined.

A similar thing happened with National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo.

In 1999, twenty one friends got together in the San Francisco Bay Area. They had no grand ambitions that first year, and were shocked with what they accomplished.

Year two: A friend set up a website, more than 100 people signed up, and they threw a "Thank God It's Over" party at the end of the month.

In year three, they expected maybe a couple hundred people to sign up. Five thousand did.

(You can read the full NaNoWriMo history here.)

I discovered NaNoWriMo in their sixth year, and signed up along with 40,000 others. Not everyone finished a 50,000-word novel that month, but I did.

Because of the random idea of a few friends who wanted to try something crazy, I completed my first novel. If it hadn't been for them, I might not have pushed through to finish a full draft of a novel. The first draft of a first novel is the hardest thing to complete, because it's before a writer knows if they can pull it off. Writing a first novel is a crazy endeavor. But thanks to those crazy friends, I learned that I could do it--and that it was fun.

So thank you to all the friends out there who are cooking up zany plans in their living rooms. I look forward to hearing about your creations.

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My First Audio Book Sale!

I signed the contract last week and the announcement went out in yesterday's Publishers Lunch, so it's official: I've signed my first audio book contract! In addition to The Accidental Alchemist hitting bookstore shelves and eReaders in January, it will now also be an audio book. Special thanks to the Sisters in Crime Guppies for spotting the announcement. Thanks for all the congratulations yesterday!