Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sasha Jackson Mysteries optioned for TV!

Hi Folks,

This has been in the works for a little while but I couldn't say anything until now.  I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the Sasha Jackson Mysteries have been optioned for development as a television series!!!  They have been optioned by Angela Argento of Lock and Load Productions.

I don't have many details yet on production, and it will be a while yet before the cameras start rolling, but it's damn exciting to be at the start of what is sure to be a great ride!

They DO plan to keep its Toronto setting.  They DO plan to have Sasha remain as edgy on screen as in the books.

The plan (as it stands now - may change) is for each book to be a season.  The show is being pitched to cable networks.

I'll be sure to share news as it happens :)

Cheers, Jill

Check out the books on AMAZON.


Friday, July 29, 2011

There's no shortage of rude/dumb things people say...

I've done a number of signings at local bookstores over the last while.  I'm happy to meet readers and talk about books, of course.  But when dealing with random samples of the general population, you have to be prepared for anything.  In the last few weeks, some people have said some unusual things to me.  The following are some of the ones that made me roll my eyes the most...

"Hey, you should do what that Harry Potter writer did - what was HIS name? - and make your books into movies."

Doh! Thanks for the suggestion. Why didn't I think of that?  Okay, got it: Books into movies.  Sure.  Number one on my to-do list.

"Wow, that's not a very good photo of you."

And that's not very polite of you.

"This one's [photo] not very good either."

Would you kindly buzz off?  I mean, please buzz off.

"Are you Margaret Atwood?"

Nope. I have better hair.

"I don't even read.  Well, I mean, I know how to..."

My mistake.  Forgive me.  I was confused by the fact that you're walking around in a BOOKSTORE...

"Why haven't I heard of you?"

Because you're a dick with no clue about the world around you?  Dunno, maybe not.  Perhaps your head's up your ass.  Maybe I'm not famous yet, because - as you know - Dan Brown, Stephen King, Sue Grafton et al were all BORN FAMOUS or have the very rare FAME GENE ... and I missed out?  No, wait, maybe you are indeed a dick.

"Do you make a lot of money doing this?"

Yes.  So far I've made almost $96 billion, but my agent takes a cut, so I have to keep plugging away...

"Where is your publisher's office?"

Um, why?  This info isn't a secret (Google), but it's an odd thing to ask me about here and now...

"Whose books are you signing?"

William Shakespeare's.  My calligraphy needs work, doesn't it?

I've also had people spend more time talking to me about the book covers than about the book itself, and you know those silly little details like setting and character...

As well, I've had people chat at length about my two books and the different paper grade used in book 1 versus book 2.  Paper grade (thickness, quality, etc.) can add to the weight & heft of a book.  Why people find this so fascinating is beyond me.  One guy lifted a book several times and pronounced it of a satisfactory weight.  Then he walked away.

As well, at store signings, people also get overly curious about my work history and education, neither of which is exactly a state secret, but I'd rather discuss minutiae like plot and dialogue...

And then there was the guy who went on and on about biogeometry and feng shui.  Apparently, I need to rearrange the images on my book cover in order to draw people to the book on the shelf.

And you thought being an author was about writing...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Books and Donuts! The story behind the barbs...

I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

We have a déclassé, loudmouth boor of a mayor named Rob Ford.  His brother Doug Ford is a city councillor. 

(For the record, the brothers are generally likeminded when it comes to policies.)   

Doug Ford recently complained (erroneously) that his area of the city has too many libraries and not enough Tim Hortons (for the non-Canadians reading this, Tim Hortons is a donut and coffee shop, and it's basically a Canadian institution named after - and co-founded by - the late hockey player Tim Horton). 

I cannot for the life of me conceive of a world in which there is such a thing as "too many libraries"...  As in too much learning? too much love of literature? too much intellectual curiosity?  It's kind of like saying the air is too fresh or the water is too clean.

Anyhow, I was sufficiently irked by this nonsense that I decided to rant about it on Twitter. I wanted to try to push the issue there to see if the Twittersphere would help drum up some support for libraries and books and reading. 

So, I sent out several tweets with the hashtag #BooksNotDonutsForFord with the intention that people add a book title (preferably food related) to the tweet.  I gave suggestions like "Tortilla Flats" and "Like Water For Chocolate" and "Green Eggs and Ham".  Soon after my tweet, someone - a librarian, of course - responded with "A Clockwork Orange".  Kudos for that one.   

Then, two things happened... First of all, the #hashtag trended for a while on Wednesday afternoon.  That's kind of cool - I made a topic trend!

Second, people responding to the trend put their own spin on the book title suggestions and ended up referring familiar books ... but with a (food) twist on the title.  Some of the suggestions were actually quite clever:

  • Anne of Green Bagels
  • Grape Expectations
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Strudel
  • A Tale of Two Timbits (for the Americans, Timbits are what you call donut holes, I think)
  • Love in the Time of Walnut Crunch
And, my personal favourites:
  • One Hundred Years of Solid Food
  • The Hounds of Baskinrobbinsville
  • A Fridge too Far
A few humourless and ignorant people kvetched that it was not nice to pick on Ford, assuming that the #hashtag was in reference to Rob in general, and to his size in particular (which he himself describes as 300 pounds of fun). 

I guess I shouldn't be suprised that people rant in the cybersphere before they know what they are talking about.

And I still think #BooksNotDonutsForFord   A Fridge Too Far is pretty darn funny.

Post Script (added Friday 6:41 am): Apparently the #hashtag got people talking... The Toronto Star mentioned it, as did Toronto Life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Really Groovy Interview with James Huskins!

Today we go back in time to a world with go-go boots, shag carpets, avocado coloured kitchen 
appliances and some great music!  Below is an interview with James Huskins, author of Silent Scream, the first in a series of whodunits that are making the world groovy one page at a time.

Jill  Love your character names! Yancy Dunkle, Nora Bates, Florence Finch, Harvey Tuttle... How do you come up with them?

James  Thank you, Jill. While the book is set in 1960, most of the characters in Silent Scream were involved in the early talkies when they were starting out in Hollywood. A big part of my research involved watching movies from that era. I simply took the first name of one actor and the second name of another from the credits (which in those days were at the beginning of a movie). Several readers have commented they’ve seen a movie with Alister Powell, which is a combo of two prominent leading men - naturally, I always agree he’s great. My protagonist, Yancy Dunkle, had different origins. I grew up in Yancey county and always loved that name, so I chose the alternate spelling for his first name. I came across the Dunkle surname while skimming European genealogy charts. It’s a German name that means “the dark one” – a perfect fit for my main character!

Jill  What can you tell me about your current work-in-progress?

James  All the books in the Groovy Mystery Capers are completely self-contained mysteries, but the first three are a trilogy that happen back-to-back. I’m currently writing the sequel which picks up exactly where Silent Scream left off. More Midgets, More Mascara ...and Murder! Yancy and a few characters from the first book are at the National Date Festival, an annual Arabian themed event held in Indio, CA. Yancy anticipates a relaxing week with time to enjoy the parade, a musical show, a costume ball, the rodeo and camel races. But as soon as he arrives, a child goes missing and her mother asks for his help. Not long after, a priceless necklace is stolen from a locked room. Yancy has his hands full working on two mysteries ...and a murder.

Jill  If mad scientists created a special potion that could make book characters come to life for a day, which fictional character in general fiction would you choose to hang out with? And which character would you choose from mystery fiction (not counting your own characters)? In both cases, tell me why.

James  Since I began reading for pleasure at the age of ten, I’ve almost exclusively read mysteries, and I reread many of them repeatedly because I love to hang out with the characters. Picking just one seems almost impossible, but if I had to, it would be the 80s character Jacqueline Kirby created by Elizabeth Peters. To date, there are only four novels featuring her and those paperbacks are so dogeared I’ll soon have to replace them – hardbacks this time around. Jake has given up smoking (many times) but still carries an ashtray in her enormous purse and constantly bums cigarettes from assorted characters. Her idea of heaven is a place where cigarettes and vodka won’t harm you. She’s oblivious to her many faults – what’s not to love? An ex-librarian, she decides to become a romance writer and blackmails her way into the top agents stable of authors and becomes a bestseller. My hero! Hanging out with Jake would be a non-stop party celebrating all the good things in life – cigs and vodka and mysteries and writing. What a day that would be!

Jill  You admit to being something of a late-bloomer, at least in terms of writing and publishing (your bio on Amazon says you launched a writing career midlife). What took you so long?

James  I wrote my first novel-length manuscript while in high school – my fave authors just couldn’t write as fast as I could read, so I had to make up my own mysteries. But writing has never been a career that could support you without a day job (unless you’re in the top ten of your genre) so I pursued other interests that would pay the bills – photography and graphic arts. Now that I’m in early retirement I can do what I’ve always wanted to do – write.

Jill  I love the whole Sixties-Groovy theme, love it and find it so refreshing. But... if you had to
write in a different time period/historical era, when would you choose?

James  The Roaring 20s might be fun – I’m drawn to periods where people broke the rules and their passion for life caused them to behave in unorthodox ways. Some really great art was created during those periods in our history.

Jill  Is it ever difficult or frustrating to write a book set in the past? Your characters can’t text each other, they can’t see Florence Finch on YouTube, Yancy doesn’t get to use Google Maps to plan his drives, and Nora Bates won’t have the chance to take advantage of the wonders of Botox. Do you ever catch yourself accidentally slipping in a modern convenience? Do you ever wish that some modern convenience had been around way back then just because it would make the plot advance more easily?

James Exactly the opposite! Today we can google someone and find out everything - just everything - about them, read their blog, pull a credit report, use GPS to track their movements. It’s just too easy. Before all the conveniences, people had to use their wits to solve a crime. But as an author, those conveniences are heaven when it comes to research – and can you imagine the number of drafts you’d have to write on a typewriter? And yes, I make slip-ups. Even though I grew up in the 60s, memory has a way of playing tricks. I had a character calling 911, which didn’t occur until 1976 I believe. And calling long distance without the assistance of an operator didn’t come about until the 70s as well. Then came a question about saran wrap – it was invented in the late 40s but I’m still not sure when it became a household item, so I changed that scene during a fact-checking edit so I wouldn’t have to deal with it at all. I do my best to make it as accurate as possible – but it’s never frustrating to me, I love doing that research. Just about everything interests me.

Jill  How many books do you plan to write in the Groovy series?

James  Originally, one for each year of the 60s. Then the first three became a trilogy that happen in the same year, so I’m up to thirteen at least if I follow that plan. I’m just happy spending time with those characters – they entertain me to no end.

Jill  What are the last three songs that came up on you iPod?

James  I have no idea – I rarely use it as I’m sitting at my laptop all day. There, I usually listen to internet radio stations. But when I’m writing, as well as reading, I require total silence without distractions so I just throw it on while I’m cooking or doing other chores.

Jill  Tell me something about yourself that you think readers should know OR that readers would find surprising about James the Author.

James  You mean, like my days in summer stock theatre, or shoveling manure when I was a kid in exchange for horseback riding lessons, or eating bouillabaisse and saying I liked it so a local artist would teach me to paint … things like that? Ah, those things I don’t talk about – one has to keep up the Author Mystique. Note: I do reveal a few things in the Author Bio on my site including a 70s recording of me plotting one of my first mysteries.

Jill  Tell me the strangest book related interaction (with a fan, an agent, online, at a store... whatever, wherever...) you’ve ever had. (Once when I did a book signing, a weirdo, new-age, over-the-hill hippie stood next to me and chanted, then she gave me my own mantra...)

James  Oh, that sounds interesting – wish I could have been there. Probably the strangest thing that’s happened so far was when a psychic fan told me all about my main character and his motivation – before the first book came out and he had read it. He wasn’t even in the ballpark but I loved his enthusiasm so I just smiled and nodded a lot.

James Thanks so much for asking me to appear on your blog!
Jill The pleasure was all mine!  Thank you!
For more on James and his Groovy Mysteries, check out his website.  Get Silent Scream on Amazon HERE  and follow James on Twitter @GroovyMystery

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tag Lines - The Lies Have It

I'd really appreciate some feedback on the following tag lines for The Lies Have It, the upcoming Sasha Jackson mystery novel.  Which ones do you find "catchy" and which ones should I forget about?  And, if you have any other tag line suggestions, please let me know.  (Synopsis for The Lies Have It here)

From ballots to bullets

There's no "safeword" here.

Make your vote count in this erection.

Of human bondage, oh yeah.

X marks the plot.

Casanova casts his ballot.

Politics makes for strange bedfellows indeed.

Really spoiled ballots.

There's a new party whip in town.

Democracy hypocrisy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Interview with Mystery Author Margot Kinberg

Here we go... Today's post is my interview with mystery novelist Margot Kinberg, an academic who has never killed a student, but I bet there were times she wanted to.

Jill:  Publish or Perish and the Joel Williams character... come on, admit it, his name was inspired by  
Billy Joel, wasn’t it?

Margot:  LOL! Of course Joel Williams’ name was inspired by Billy Joel! What’s so funny is that you are only the second person who’s spotted that, and I think most people who are kind enough to read my blog know that I’m a Billy Joel fan.

Jill:  Joel Williams is a former cop. What advantages do you have as a writer in having a main character who is NOT in uniform?

Margot:  I think it gives me several advantages. One of them is that a lot of people, both in real life and crime fiction, don’t trust the police. Having a character who isn’t a cop can make people more comfortable and trusting. That lets me create more believable conversations where witnesses and suspects say things either to Williams or in his hearing that they wouldn’t say to the cops. Another advantage is that since I’m not an expert on police procedure (although I do try really hard to be authentic), I don’t have to rely as much on my less-than-perfect knowledge of it as I write.

Jill:  Nick Merrill is (was) involved with two women. How could you be sure as you were writing this that female readers wouldn’t be turned off? After all, readers need to care about the victim in order to stick around to watch the solution unfold.

Margot:  A good point! One can never be 100% sure, of course. But I tried to do a few things to avoid making Nick out to be a complete misogynist or otherwise really off-putting. First, I tried to make it clear that he doesn’t take either relationship lightly, nor is he abusive to either woman. He’s genuinely in a quandary and is trying to think of the least hurtful thing to do. Also, he makes a sincere effort to set things right with Angel Shaftson. He tries hard to respect her point of view. Carrie Woods’, too, for that matter. He’s self-involved when it comes to his relationships but he’s not heartless.

Jill:  Your books are set on a university campus. You teach at a university. How much does your own experience inform your setting? (I hope none of your students has ever died as a result of foul play!)

Margot:  No, to my knowledge, none of my students has been a casualty, except at grading time ;-). My university experience has actually had a lot to do with the setting I chose, though. I’ve been on and around college campuses for decades. I’m familiar with a lot of the “behind the scenes” things that go on at universities and I know the kinds of people you’ll often find there. So in that very general sense, my experiences have directly informed my writing. I will say, though, that the buildings, descriptions, and characters aren’t drawn directly from real life. It’s probably more accurate to say they’re composites of lots of different people and places I’ve known. And of course, a shot of imagination ;-).

Jill:  B Very Flat is a mystery set against the background of music, and I know you’re a musician
yourself. How much of you is in this book?

Margot:  The truth is, there’s some of me in everything I write. In B-Very Flat, I definitely tapped into my love for music and my experiences with music and musical artists at different places I’ve taught. Most campuses with a music department, for instance, have rehearsal and practise rooms like the ones in the novel, and I’ve spent my share of time in them. I also tapped into my own undergraduate experience. Again, not with any specific character, but more the general sense of what campus life is like for undergraduates.

Jill:  Name three mystery authors who are/were your biggest influences.

Margot:  Only three?? Hmm….. Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter and….let’s see…Michael Connelly, I think. And without a doubt Dorothy Sayers - oh wait, that’s four – rats! There are a lot of other authors, too, whose work I very much admire and from whom I would so much like to learn. But those three have each taught me so much about the really well-written mystery. For example, I’ve learned a lot about plotting and the mystery itself (and so much else, too!) from Agatha Christie’s work. From Dexter I’ve learned about making a university/college setting realistic. I’ve also learned a lot from him about solid intellectual puzzles. From Connelly I’m learning so much about character development and tying the various threads of a story together. And Connelly’s setting descriptions are so nicely done, too. As I said, though, there are so many other truly fine authors out there that I really couldn’t say that only those three influence me.

Jill:  What do you as an educator (not a novelist) think is the BIGGEST problem these days in the world of post-secondary academe?

Margot:  As an educator, I would say that one very big problem is what I see as the commercialisation and the increasing “corporate mentality” of many institutions. Instead of an emphasis on the pursuit of knowledge and the support of those who are acquiring it, the focus (and the structure) in many institutions is becoming far more business- and profit-oriented. Only a fool forgets that higher education is a business, but when that mentality takes precedence over the intellectual life of an institution, then the entire institution suffers. And one thing that suffers the most is students’ ability to critically evaluate, to develop themselves, and to explore their worlds.

This emphasis on the commercial has also led to far too many students who choose a program not because they want to learn but because they want their “ticket punched.”

Higher education is under a tremendous amount of financial pressure given the current economy. So it’s understandable that Boards of Trustees and other leaders send the message that profit is important. But all too often, intellectual rigour, the development of the self, and the opportunity to take the time to explore knowledge are sacrificed.

Jill:  Which is more fun for you to write (and why): dialogue or description?

Margot:  I like writing dialogue. I think it’s because I have a background in linguistics, and have always been fascinated by language and the way that people use it. One learns so much about a character from the way she or he speaks, too, so dialogue is also an effective way to share characters with readers.

Jill:  What is the hardest thing for you about plotting a mystery?

Margot:  The hardest thing for me about plotting a mystery is coming up with realistic ways for the mystery to be revealed. I’m not much of a fan of “the long arm of coincidence,” so it’s important to me to be sure that all of information that Joel Williams gets (or the police, etc.) comes naturally and isn’t contrived.

Jill:  What can you tell me about your current work in progress?

Margot:  Thanks for asking! I’ve just finished the manuscript for the third Joel Williams mystery. This one, unlike the first two novels, takes place mostly in and around Philadelphia. Williams and two research colleagues are doing a study of an alternative school program. In the course of that study, they find out about the two-year-old death of one of the students in that program. At the time, the death was put down to a tragic accident, but the research team suspects that it was murder. As the researchers get closer to finding out what happened to the student, they also discover that the killer will do anything to cover up what happened.

Jill:  What is one thing about you that one of your fans/readers would be surprised to know about you as a novelist?

Margot:  I’m really a very non-violent person. I’m not squeamish, but I don’t like violence at all, even though I write about it.

Jill:  How detailed are your outlines? Or do you make outlines? Tell me a bit about your own process for writing a whodunit.

Margot:  I always start with the victim. After all, it’s nearly always something about the victim that caused her or his death. I think about who that person was and where and how that person lived. Then I think about who would have wanted a person like that dead. Once I’ve got that settled, I think about the different people in the victim’s life, and those become the suspects and other characters. But it all starts with the victim.

Once I have my ideas for characters and major events, I do outline. But it’s not a minute-by-minute outline; it’s sketchier than that. That’s because as I go along, I’ll think of other characters or places that fit in, and I write them in, too. To me, it’s a workable balance between planning and allowing good, spontaneous ideas to work their way in, too.

Once I have the outline, I start writing. Sometimes the story morphs as I go along; sometimes not. Then, when it’s done, I revise and edit for obvious problems. Then it’s time for my first readers to take a look. When I get their feedback, I use it to revise and edit again, and then proofread.

Jill:  Final thoughts...?

Margot:  Thank you so much for hosting me, Jill! I’ve really enjoyed the experience, and I wish you the very best in your own writing.

Margot's blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist

Margot Kinberg on AMAZON

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Booze in the Sasha Mysteries

Please drink responsibly...

Let's see now, Sahsa and her friends have knocked back some creative cocktails, several craft brews and imported beers, a few fine wines, and a number of interesting shots.  Here's a look at some of what has been consumed in Blood and Groom and Dead Light District.

Jägermeister.  Wow, what is there to say about Jäger?  Other than there is nothing quite like it.  the voice of experience talking here...)  Sasha and Lindsey drank a few of these before going to Karaoke in Blood and Groom. Besides, ümlauts are cool. Suck it back straight up, or on the rocks.  Just don't have too many of them (

Mojitos. A damn fine summer cocktail!  In Dead Light District, Sasha downs a few of these with fresh mint leaves that Shane grows in their backyard.  White rum (best if it's Havana Club), sugar, mint leaves, freshly squeezed lime juice, topped off with soda water.  Ahhh...

Amaretto Sour.  If you're drinking  amaretto at all, it's gotta be Disaronno.  A lot of people choose to make an Amaretto Sour with lemon juice, but Sasha prefers it with lime juice and nothing else.  Toss in a handful of ice and garnish with a wedge of lime.  Yummy!
P.S. Only a wimp would bother with a sugar rim.

Spanish Coffee.  Or Irish Coffee.  Or Monte Cristo Coffee.  Sasha's favourite is a Monte Cristo, which is made with Grand Marnier and Kahlua, hot coffee, a sugar rim, and a whole lotta whipped cream on top!  No need to bother with the maraschino cherry, but a straw is necessary (otherwise you get whipped cream on your nose).  Be sure to seductively lick the sugar rim from the glass.

Gin and Tonic.  People often think of gin as a very British spirit, and indeed it is.  However, there are some wondeful gins from all over the world.  Some of Sasha's favourite brands of gin include: Hendrick's (from Scotland), Phrog (from British Columbia), The Duke (from Germany), and Xoriguer (from Minorca).  Each of them is awesome with tonic water, and you can make a mean martini with them as well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Going to Private Eye School: You Can be a Dick!

Yes, you too can become a Private Detective...Sleuth...PI...Gumshoe...Dick...  You can learn the Private Eye biz in a number of different ways:

Correspondence Course from the UK.  You can complete the program in one year.  Topic of study include:
  • Investigative methodology
  • Classification of shoplifters
  • The art of questioning
  • A team approach to surveillance by foot
  •  Fraudulent disability investigations
A career college in the Toronto area offers a three month course at their Scarborough campus.  The admission requirements are as follows:

Applicants must be aged 18 and over, be of excellent character and reputation, and have no criminal record. They must also have a high IQ and able to pass our aptitude test.

Humber College offers a certificate based on "the training standards from the Private Security and Investigative Services Act of Ontario." 

The program included instruction in Forensic Investigation and Investigative Techniques.  Each course is six weeks in length, and there are six required courses to earn the certificate..

Then there is the two year diploma program in Public & Private Investigations offered by Sheridan College (this is where Sasha Jackson studied).  Some of the courses in this program include:
  • Crisis Intervention & Use of Force
  • Economic Espionage
  • Fraud: Offenders and Victims
  • Criminal Law and Procedures

The governing body/document for this indusrty (in Ontario) is the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005 .  The act covers such things as Application for licence, Searches in exigent circumstances, Standadrds of practice, Testimonial immunity, and Protection from liability. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fourth Sasha Jackson Mystery....Porno #*@%*!%$*!#!@#!!

I am currently working on the as yet untitled fourth book in the Sasha Jackson series.  The background to Empire of Illusion" by Chris Hedges.  (Fantastic book by the way!)
this one is the porno industry.  The inspiration for book #4 comes entirely from chapter two of "

I learned more than I wanted to about the "adult entertainment" industry after reading Hedges's book, and it made me very angry.  Much of it disgusted me as well.  But back to the anger... Well, if I were part of that world, I'd possibly be homicidal.  Not really...

I'm definitely not a prude, and it's actually pretty hard to offend me.  Much of what the book discussed about the porno industry is very definitely NOT my cup of tea, but generally speaking, I subscribe to the motto "live and let live".


The Internet has changed the porno industry.  Once upon a time, a dirty movie meant one guy and one girl and some cheesy music.  There would be a weak attempt at something resembling a plot (pizza delivery guy... boss and secretary, etc). 

But people always want more.  So next there were movies with two guys and a girl, or two girls and a
guy.  And customers started wanting something a little different, a little kinky, some fetish, a little bondage and some BDSM... So then there came movies with oral sex, and anal sex, and the introduction of "toys" and straps, and you name it...

Yeah.  Okay, fine.  Whatever.  But - as Chris Hedges points out in his book - the industry has gone way beyond this.  Way, way beyond this.  Unacceptably beyond this.

What absolutely angered me and disturbed me from chapter two of Empire of Illusion was:
1) the money
2) the physical harm
(The psychological harms are too great a topic to even begin to discuss...)

It seems that porno can't get bigger-better-harder fast enough.  There are now a great many number of gang-bang films in which the girl has sex with (or, more accurately, is fucked by) ten or twenty or more men. 

There is a whole lot that could be said about this, but one of the things that immediately struck me is that the money is not even slightly proportional to the degradation or the risk involved, or the physical endurance required.  Apparently porno stars get paid by the day, so it's the same rate for fucking one guy (no one makes movies like that anymore) as it is for fucking several. 

Secondly, that much physical wear and tear, so to speak, and being repeatedly, um, poked in so many places, leads to a number of injuries (in addition to the emotional ones).  Aside from STDs, I read about bruises where they ought not to be, rips and flesh tears in places that should never need stitching, and many other awful accounts of the physical toll these movies exact on the women (girls really) who "star" in them.

The long and short of it is that it made me mad, or as I said above, almost homicidal.  So I decided to channel my reaction into a mystery novel in which I get to kill off a scumbag movie producer.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Good Bald Moron" and "To Nimble Hoof Pork"... WTF?

I'm trying to come up with a title for the fourth Sasha Jackson mystery and I'm stuck. 

As well, I have absolutely nothing better to do with my time (and I clearly need a hobby), so I went to an Internet anagram site and plugged in the titles of the first three Sasha Jackson Mysteries.  Here's some of what I found:

Blood and Groom can become:
  • Bad Lord Go Moon
  • A Boron Dog Mold
  • Good Bald Moron
  • A Bold Dong Room (My personal favourite)

 Dead Light District can become:
  • Cat Griddle Hid Tits
  • Gait Stitch Diddler
  • Cheddar Gild Its Tit (Wish I'd see this earlier - it's a winner!)
  • Addicts Hid Glitter
 The Lies Have It can become:
  • Atheist He Evil
  • The Alive Heist (I may actually use this one someday...)
  • Eat Lithe Hives
  • I Leave The Shit 
I still haven't come up with a title for my current work in progress.  As I work on it, I generally refer to the 4th Sasha mystery as "The Porno Film Book".  So I dumped those four words into the anagram page and came up with:
  • Brothel Of Pink Moo
  • Forelimb Hoop Knot
  • To Nimble Hoof Pork
  • Bile For Photo Monk
  • Bloomer Poof Think
I realize I'm going to have to give this a bit more thought...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Take the Sasha Quiz!

Random trivia from Blood and Groom and Dead Light District.

Twelve questions about books 1 and 2 in the Sasha Jackson Mystery series here.

Correction on Availability of Dead Light District

"Dead Light District" was published in March 2011 by Iguana. The ISBN number is 9780986683800.

Dead Light District is NOT associated with Dundurn, or with ISBN number 9781554888023, or with the cover with the hooker’s ass & fishnets.

Various online sources list Dead Light District as an “out of stock” or “unavailable” Dundurn publication. This is INCORRECT.  Please contact me for further details or check my website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sasha's Best Friend Lindsey (Lakshmi)

Sasha and Lindsey have been the best of friends forever it seems.  They got into mischief together in grade 7, sat in detention together in high school, experimented with illegal substances in their late teens, and regrettably raided Sasha's dad's liquor cabinet on more than one occasion.  Here's a bit more about Lindsey...

Real name: Lakshmi, but has been going by the name Lindsey since elementary school. Her Sri Lankan parents still call her by her real name, and do not approve of the anglicized moniker. 

It's much harder to make a teasing nickname out of "Lakshmi" than it is out of "Lindsey".  In high school, let's face it, Lindsey was a little bit too easy with the guys, thus earning the handle "Flimsy Lindsey".

Occupation: Real estate agent.  Ironically, she does not own her own home yet.  She still lives with super-religious Mom and Pop and will do so until she gets married. 

Upside to this: she is saving a ton of money.  Downside to this: even though she's in her early thirties, she still gets yelled at for coming home late.  She lies to her parents quite often.  As far as they know, she has run out of gas 6 times this year, has had 11 flat tires in as many months, and has a friend undergoing an emergency appendectomy at least once per lunar cycle.

Proudest moment: Reciting her poem "Lima Beans and Blue Jeans" at the Mother's Day pageant in senior kindergarden.  She somehow managed to make a rhyme out of "Levis" and "freeze dried".

Claim to fame: Flashed her boobs while on Bourbon Street during a trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. A newspaper reporter with a camera in hand caught the moment on film and her breasts were on page one of the next day's newpaper.  Note the contrast between this and her proudest moment, above.  Thank god her parents don't surf the 'net.

Pet peeve: Wal-Mart and any major chain... Oh, wait, that rant is getting old and sounds so Mother Jonesian.  How about this:  Irritated by men who wear brown shoes with a black suit, and she loathes geraniums.  She'll only list or show houses if they do not have any of these garish blooms on the property.  She also intensely dislikes Conan O'Brien's hair. 

Secret dream:  To mess-up Conan O'Brien's hair. and to shake hands with Prince William.  Either of those, or to learn to fly a helicopter.  Fuck that, wouldn't it be cool to just fly?

Engaged to: Restaurant owner and chef Shane Jackson (Sasha's brother). The wedding is planned for some day between now and whenever Hell freezes over.  Sasha will be the maid of honour and will be forced to wear the gaudiest dress known to mankind.  Puffed sleeves and bows for sure.

On being best friends with Sasha (and someday sister-in-law), Lindsey says:

"I've learned a lot from Sasha, most of it's good, but... well... Let's just say that much she has taught me is not and will never be on my resume.  From Sasha, I have learned how to:
  • Lie my way into or out of almost any situation, because of her
  • Appreciate the difference between a single malt scotch and a blend
  • Rhyme several words with "penis"
  • Make origami deco... No, wait, that was someone else
  • Apply false eyelashes
  • Get free upgrades at five-star hotels
It's also because of Sasha that:  
  • I am now barred from Jeronimo Java on King Street
  • I have a lifetime subscription to "Watchtower"
  • I got fired (!!!) from being a volunteer at the hospital
  • I almost choked while eating Gummi Bears on a treadmill
  • I once spent a night on a sailboat with a well known rock star and no anchor
  • I will never again wear white shoes after labour day 
You couldn't ask for a better friend than Sasha.  She's fiercely loyal, funny as hell, and is ultimately (and usually accidentally) quite dangerous."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Interview with mystery author Jennifer Stanley

I'm happy today to share an interview with the incredibly busy, very talented, and all-round cool chick, mystery author Jennifer Stanley.

Jill:  Which of your three series – if you could pick one – most resembles you in terms of personality?

Jennifer:  I was once most like Molly Appleby, the heroine of my now out-of-print antiques and collectibles series, but now I am strange cross between James Henry from the Supper Club series and Olivia Limoges from the Books By the Bay mysteries (I write those under the pen name, Ellery Adams)

Killer Collection
Jill:  What made you decide to develop a Collectibles series?

Jennifer:  I grew up in a house filled with unusual antiques. My grandparents started my doll collection before I could even walk and it just blossomed from there. When I touch a piece of handmade furniture, I sense the history in the piece. Old things have stories to tell and they fascinate me. I like stuff from Pottery Barn as much as the next gal, but none of those objects become precious. The age, the patina, the love and sweat that went into their creation—that makes them precious.

Robert B. Parker had tremendous success with the Spenser series and Parker also wrote a number of books in another series featuring Jesse Stone. In one of Parker’s mysteries, the two sleuths meet up. Do you plan to have any crossover among your characters/series?

What a fun question! In fact, I have fantasized about the Supper Club twins, Francis and Scott Fitzgerald , moving from Virginia to either North Carolina (where they could hang out with my writer’s group) or to Georgia (the setting of my new charmed pie shoppe series. They could run the library in the mountain town of Havenwood). I might have to ask readers who they miss and who they’d like to see get a second lease on life.

Stirring Up StrifeDo you think religious themed series have a smaller market now than they did a generation ago?

I think they have a better shot at success if they’re shelved in the Christian Fiction category. I have friends who will buy anything as long as it’s shelved in that section, but won’t stray to another part of the bookstore. I’m afraid being shelved in Mystery was one of the things that doomed my Hope Street Series.

I love your titles! How do you come up with them?

Alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Kidding. Actually, I wrestle with them quite seriously and sometimes, they are rejected by the publisher and I have to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes readers send me wonderful titles and I’m going to hold a title contest for the second pie shoppe book because I could use some help!

You were a teacher for several years. Do you ever miss being in the classroom? I understand you taught grade six... What did you learn from your students?

My kids were amazing. The boundless creativity they possessed….no one told them, “The story can’t go that way.” They weren’t hampered by rules and set ideas—they just wrote and some of their narratives were a joy to read, edit, and reread. They gave me the gift of seeing through fresh eyes for eight years and it was a fulfilling experience. But because I gave so much to be the best teacher I could be, there was nothing left at the end of the day for my writing, so eventually I chose to stay at home and write the books I knew I had inside of me.

You have an undergrad degree in English. Who is one of your favourite non-mystery authors and why?

Outside of the mystery genre, I love historical fiction (a la Sharon Kay Penman) and all kinds of young adult books from the Percy Jackson series to the Hunger Games. I am also fond of women’s fiction authors who weave mysticism into their narratives, such as Alice Hoffman. These days, I’ve been steeped in historical mysteries by authors like C.S. Harris, Charles Finch, Alan Bradley, and more.

Carbs and CadaversIf the Supper Club mysteries were to be made into a movie, who would you like to see play the starring roles?

Another fun question! But tough too. I could see a plumper Greg Kinnear for James Henry and Clint Eastwood as his father, Jackson. If Minnie Driver died her hair red she could be Gillian. Selma Hayek as Lindy? I’m not sure about the rest of the cast!

What was your best score or best find on eBay?

A piece of folk art – a devil’s head carving – that I got for $40. I later sold it for over $400. It was really cool!

Do you ever toy with the idea of writing in a different genre? Literary? Nonfiction?

Indeed, I have. In fact, I’ve been published as a poet and have written children’s books that never saw publication, but there is a YA fantasy I am dying to write. I just need a clone.

You have been to a number of book related events/festivals/conferences. What is the strangest thing a fan has ever said or done to you?

Asked for my agent’s phone number and wanted to use my name when they called her. “Not happening,” I said.

What can you tell me about your current work in progress?

I am working on the 4th Books By the Bay mystery (written as Ellery Adams) and it is tentatively titled The Metaphor Murders. At the same time, I’m working on Book 2 in the Lucy Arlington Literary Agency series that I’m coauthoring with a friend. The first book doesn’t come up until 2/2012.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before becoming a published novelist?

How obsessed I’d become with my Amazon ranking!

Can you tell me what the “B” in JB Stanley stands for?

Sure. It’s Bond, Jennifer Bond. Just kidding. The B is for Briggs, which is my maiden name. I thought I’d keep my gender neutral when I first got published because I wanted male readers and was keeping the romance fairly low-key in those first series. Of course, having my picture in the back of the book kind of ruined that mystery!

Open ended final question: What’s the one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? OR What else would you like readers to know about you?

Let’s go for the surprise. In 1999, I legally changed my name to Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to win a radio contest. The prize was $1000 and I did it because my students dared me to. I had my 15 minutes of fame (media coverage, Extra filmed a segment on it, and Rosie O’Donnell flew me to NY to introduce her show), but it was a fun experience.

For more on Jennifer and her works, check out her website.
Find Jennifer Stanley's books on Amazon.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Merriam Webster Online, and other Word Sites

Test your word power!  You can take the quiz over and over.  Boost your score by answering quickly. 
Vocabulary Quiz

Build your vocabulary and impress your friends: Word of the Day

Show everyone how hip & cool you are: New Words and Slang  (This is NOT Urban Dictionary, but I do like that one too...)

This thesaurus site only has a 2 week free trial, then ya gotta cough up the dough, but it's a cool word map:  Visual Thesaurus .  Similar to this one - and FREE - is Visuwords.

Bore the Hell out of everyone you know by giving them long-winded & pompous oral dissertations on the roots of the big words they ask you to define for them:  Etymology