Archive for January, 2011

Interview with Five Star Mystery Editor Deni Dietz

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Recently, I interviewed Five Star Mystery Associate Editor, Deni Dietz. You can find the interview on my Articles page. My previous interview with agent Laura Bradford can now be found in Archives.

Deni is my first editor interview. Deni was also my editor for WHERE SHE BELONGS, my December 2011 Five Star Expressions release. As I’ve mentioned before, the Expressions line will close with the publication of my novel. However, Deni, who publishes under two names as well as being an editor, has also edited the Five Star Mystery line all along.  She will continue to do so. Some romantic suspense and romantic mysteries will qualify for the Five Star Mystery line. Deni says:

We have no “official” romance-to-mystery/suspense ratio. But as a crime fiction author since 1992, I know my audience. If there’s too much romance, the book won’t fly. If the romance is integral to the plot, the book will have wings as well as legs. Example: I was 50,000 words into a new Mary Ellen Dennis historical romance, The Midnight Bridge, when the Expressions line went belly-up. “Bridge” even has my favorite opening lines: “The solicitor smelled a rat. Twenty minutes later he didn’t smell anything at all.” I call my Mary Ellen Dennis novels “history-mystery-romances,” and Five Star said they’d consider Midnight Bridge for their mystery line. I thought about it, and decided that I, as an acquiring editor, would turn it down. The ratio was askew—more romance than mystery. So I guess what I’m saying is that I’ll know if the ratio works, and every submission comes to me before it’s reviewed for publication.

Deni also shares Five Star Mystery formatting tips in the interview and describes where you can find Five Star/Cengage books. Other delicious tidbits can be found in the interview. So hie thee over to the Articles page and lap it up!

New York, New York!

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The annual RWA National Conference is being held in New York City this year and will henceforth land in NYC every four years. I haven’t attended RWA since the San Francisco conference in 2008, and I haven’t been to New York since 2003, the last time RWA hosted the conference there. I had a wonderful time, and I can’t wait to go back.

Are you going? Put up your hand.

I won’t be signing as Cindy at the Literacy Autographing this year, because WHERE SHE BELONGS doesn’t release until December. Insead, I filled out the form asking for Penny’s publisher to supply copies of Secrets 28: SENSUAL CRAVINGS and Secrets 26: BOUND BY PASSION to the Autographing. In 2008, I sat there with only two copies of Secrets 26 to sell. The box of books had been lost, and I was lucky two copies of Secrets 26 were stuffed in with the copies of Secrets 27 (which, alas, doesn’t feature Penny).

So hopefully this year I’ll be sitting behind my (well, Penny’s) super secret name sign with more than two books to sign. You’ll most likely find me beside successful author (and very nice person) Roxanne St. Claire (if that doesn’t get you scrambling to click those book links to Amazon and figure out which of the same two names on 26 and 28 are me, nothing will). It’s easy to spot me. Just look for the long line of fans lining up for Roxanne’s books, then look to her left or right. I’ll smile, you’ll ignore me, and ask Roxanne to sign one of her books to you. It’ll be fun!

Honestly, Penny doesn’t bite. Only when asked. And then you have to ask real nice.

New York, New York! What a wonderful town!!

Muse Interrupted Guest Bloggers on Hiatus

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

I’ve hosted guest bloggers on Muse Interrupted for over two years now. Throughout the last half of 2010, I considered going on hiatus or changing the guest blogging schedule to one guest every 6-8 weeks. I loved hosting guest bloggers and doing all those book give-aways (thanks to my guests’ generosity) for the last two years, but I set up a schedule where, at one point, I had a guest every week for one month. Then I had guests every 3 weeks for the rest of that year. Then every 3-5 weeks in 2010. For 2011, I thought a guest every 6-8 weeks would work. Now that 2011 is upon me, though, I don’t find myself posting to my various published author loops looking for authors to host.

This must mean I need a break.

Not that hosting my guests was a strenuous effort. I enjoyed every one of my guests. However, for the first part of 2011, anyway, the time I took these last two years to send out reminders, promote my guests, and formatting the posts will now go toward my own writing. And toward my own guest blogging opportunities. With HEAD OVER HEELS coming out in audiobook February 14/15 and WHERE SHE BELONGS releasing in library hardcover in December—and the possibility of more releases as Cindy between those two (I don’t want to say more now because that project is still  in development)—I plain ol’ don’t have the energy or energy to host guest authors on my blog. I might change my mind in the second half of 2011, but that’s how it sits for now.

So, thank you to all my guests from the last two years! And thank you to the readers who took the time to read the blogs and comment—and win books!

Holiday Reading

Monday, January 17th, 2011

It’s only the middle of January. I can still enthrall you with the books I read over the holidays, right?

I did a lot of reading “out of genre,” as they say (as in not in the genres I write). And I can recommend each and every book. I’m not great at writing reviews—it takes too much brain power—so I’m posting the book covers and links to the authors’ websites and the back cover copy. That way, if something catches your eye, you have a clickable way to find out more. 

Yes, I know I’m the epitome of graciousness. Send me chocolate for Valentine’s Day and we’ll call it even.

First up,  a memoir. A “Kimoir,” as the author, Kim Stagliano, calls it: ALL I CAN HANDLE: I’m No Mother Theresa (A life Raising Three Daughters with Autism).

I met Kim on-line a few years ago, on an old ChickLit writers listserv. She was writing somewhat of a mystery novel, if I recall. Her personality popped out at me. So when she sold her memoir about raising her three daughters with autism, I knew I’d want to buy it. I was helped along by having read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs. I loved that book, so bought Wolf at the Table, another of Burroughs’s memories. Because Kim had mentioned Burroughs’s brother, John Elder Robison, penning a memoir about having Asperger’s Syndrome and I’d become interested in Kim’s battle with autism through the listserv and her blog, I bought (and loved) Robison’s book, Look Me in the Eye. Well, I couldn’t read Burroughs’s books and Robison’s book and then not read Kim’s book, could I? 

I really enjoyed her memoir. Right now, autism and vaccines are in the news again. I don’t personally know anyone with autism, or anyone who has a child with autism (that I know of, although I suspect I did know a person or two with Asperger’s Syndrome when I was growing up), so I’m not taking sides in that debate. Don’t try to get me to.

Whatever your position on the vaccines and their influence, Kim’s memoir is worth a read. She has a great sense of humor, and she’s a mother bear warrior. I have to admire her mettle.


How one woman raises three autistic daughters, loses one at Disneyworld, stays married, has sex, bakes gluten-free, goes broke, and keeps her sense of humor.

“Dr. Spock? Check. Penelope Ann Leach (Remember her?)? Check. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Check. I had a seven-hundred–dollar Bellini crib for God’s sake!” So begins Kim Stagliano’s electrifying, hilarious tale of her family’s journey raising three daughters with autism. With her funny, startling, and illuminating first book, Stagliano joins the ranks of bestselling memoirists like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. With her willingness to lay everything on the table—family, friends, and enemies to basement floods to birth days to (possible) heroin addictions—she eviscerates and celebrates the absurd.

Whether she’s going commando to rescue a daughter from a potentially embarrassing situation or accidentally stealing electric fans, she and her family are seemingly always on the edge of a Stagtastrophe. From her love of Howard Stern to her increasing activism in the autism community and exhaustive search for treatments that will help her daughters, she explores her life with vigor and humor. Always outspoken, often touching, and sometimes heart breaking, Kim Stagliano is a powerful new voice in comedic writing—her “Kimoir” (as she calls it) will be a must-read for everyone within the autism community. More than that, it’s the debut of a new voice that will entertain everyone who reads it.

ALL I CAN HANDLE released in November, 2010 from Skyhorse Publishing. If you enjoy memoirs, check it out!

From Kim’s book, I progressed to STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova. STILL ALICE is a novel about a 50-year-old woman faced with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s an excellent read, whether or not you know someone struggling with EOAD or regular ol’ AD, or various forms of dementia.


Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind…

Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

What’s interesting about STILL ALICE is that it began as a self-published novel, then was picked up Pocket Books, a major publisher. That doesn’t happen very often. I’m so glad it happened in this case. You can read about Genova’s self-publishing endeavor on the FAQ page of her website. Like it says on her website, this book is a novel, but it reads like a memoir. That’s part of what makes it so fascinating. Genova’s second novel, Left Neglected, about a working mom who suffers a traumatic brain injury, has just been published. Oddly, I can’t seem to find a central website for Genova. Instead, she has websites devoted to each of her books. Here’s the link for STILL ALICE again.

Finally, I read HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger. Youngest Son bought it for me for Christmas, and I ate it up. I enjoyed The Time Traveler’s Wife (also by Niffenegger) when I read it last year. But I adored HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY. There’s headhopping all over the place, so if you don’t like headhopping, this might not be the book for you. However, it’s not a romance, where headhopping  is often frowned upon (because it can have the effect of distancing you from the characters, and in romance you usually want your reader in the hero and heroine’s minds as much as possible). HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY is a literary novel. So the omniscient point of view works. And the ghost story element is ultra cool.


Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt, Elspeth Noblin, has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls’ aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.

The girls move to Elspeth’s flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons, and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbors: Martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth’s elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including—perhaps—their aunt.

When the cover copy says the girls are twins, it doesn’t mention that they are mirror image twins, and I wondered if there is such a thing. Apparently there is, although one twin having her heart on the right side of her chest, like in the book, is rare.

My husband’s mother is a fraternal twin (two eggs). Her mother was a twin (I don’t know if she was identical or fraternal) who was pregnant 3 times and had 5 babies. Yes, two sets of fraternal twins. Only her first pregnancy made one baby. I find that mighty interesting, so the concept for HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY grabbed me. I’m now looking forward to Niffenegger’s next book.

What interesting books have you read lately?

My Muse Has Kidnapped Me, and I Can’t Get Out!

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I had blog topics planned for this week, but an opportunity has descended and I’m too busy developing ideas to do a blog post justice. I’d wanted to write about the great books I read over the holidays. Might still get a post in on the topic later this week. The books I read are definite, “I Recommends.” And you know how much weight my opinion carries! (Or it should. Sheesh, people). (Yes, I can hear you rolling your eyes).

What’s worse about Elle Muse kidnapping me is that I was slated to do revisions/edits for Penny this week and the next and the next. She’s most upset that I’m ignoring her. I’m giving Elle one more day to mess with my mind and tomorrow she can begin annoying Penny again.

In the meantime, I’m a slave to my muse.

Bye-Bye, Baby, Bye-Bye

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Youngest flew back to university on Saturday. When we picked him up at the airport for the holidays, Eldest was holding up a welcome home sign featuring this photo:

We had a most excellent Christmas, but I miss my baby!

(Nice tummy).