Book giveaway: the winners

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Here are the ten lucky winners of Grand Central Publishing’s triple giveaway of Little Black Lies, Little Mercies, and Phantom Instinct.

Debbie K.
Laura R.
Heather S.
Vicki
Kristen H.
Catherine H.
Claudia S.
Karen S.
Aimee d.
Kathy J.

Congratulations to the winners!

Saturday: Montgomery County Book Festival

Allegory of Europe

Tomorrow I’m speaking at the Montgomery County Book Festival. It’s at Lone Star College just north of Houston. The Husband and I drove down early, because Houston consists of 600 square miles of traffic plus the Johnson Space Center.

We arrived in time to spend a couple of hours at the wonderful Museum of Fine Arts Houston. That’s where I saw the painting in the photo above. It’s “Allegory of Europe” by Jean-Baptiste Oudry. The notes accompanying the painting say: “The bust of the Roman goddess Minerva sits at the center of this painting, presiding over the objects and animals around her. In ancient Roman mythology, Minerva was the goddess of wisdom and just wars. The horse on her helmet is a traditional symbol of Europe.”

Yeah, the bust isn’t what drew my attention either.

Monkeys. Is there anything they don’t make better?

Anyhow, if you’re in the mood to come say hello to me or a bunch of other authors tomorrow, here’s the lowdown.

Montgomery County Book Festival
Lone Star College — Montgomery
3200 College Park Dr.
Conroe, Texas
Saturday, February 21, 2015
10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Free and open to the public.

Book giveaway featuring Phantom Instinct and novels by Heather Gudenkauf and Sandra Block

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You like giveaways. You like the chance to win free books. I know you do. Here’s your chance.

Grand Central Publishing is giving away 10 signed copies of Sandra Block’s debut thriller Little Black Lies — AND Heather Gudenkauf’s Little Mercies AND my novel Phantom Instinct.

Little Black Lies is a darned good thriller. Heather Gudenkauf blurbed it, and so did I. Check out the quote on the book’s cover in the image above: “‘A darkly intriguing mystery that pulls you in deep and doesn’t let go.’ –Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award winning author.”

You can enter a random drawing to win autographed copies of all three books. You only have until this Friday, February 20th, at 11:59pm Eastern. Enter here.

This Saturday: Montgomery County Book Festival

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This Saturday, February 21, I’ll be speaking at the Montgomery County Book Festival in Houston. This annual event is free to the public. So if you’re in East Texas, come on down.

Montgomery County Book Festival
“Can I Get a Witness?”
Mystery Panel with Meg Gardiner, Kim O’Brien, and Joy Treble
2-2:50pm AND 3-3:50pm

I hope to see some of you there.

Where I get my ideas, part infinity: the Mini

Meg & MINI

If anybody who’s read Phantom Instinct (or, as it’s called in the UK, The Burning Mind) wonders where heroine Harper Flynn got her love for the Mini Cooper she drives, here’s a clue.

To answer your questions:

  • It drives like a go kart. Yes, it’s economical, and can be parked in a space the size of a sofa. It’s fun.
  • I don’t have Harper’s advanced driving skills. Most of what she does in the book — evasive maneuvers, handbrake turns, donuts in an airplane hangar — I learned from online research, while sitting at my desk. So if you’re looking for a getaway driver, I’m not your woman.
  • Like Harper, I have taught a teenager to drive in a Mini. Granted, we didn’t do J turns while shouting profanities in Russian. But whipping along English country roads with a seventeen-year-old who made car chase sound effects every time we rounded a curve — that was fun, even at 30 mph.

This has been today’s look at the story behind the story.

And the real life seventeen-year-old passed his driving test in that Mini. Manual shift, first time.

Question Time 2015: Answers Part IV

DJ Paterson asks:

The publishing landscape seems to have changed significantly in recent years, with the rise in popularity of both e-readers and self-publishing. There seem to be more books than ever released each year. In addition, I’ve noticed an increased expectation that e-books should be cheap (there are plenty of people who bemoan paying more that 99p for an e-book, when they shell out two or three times that for a coffee!). As a ‘traditionally’ published author of top-quality thrillers, what’s your take on this?

It’s opportunity, it’s chaos, it’s freedom, it’s messy. It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.

This is a wonderful time to be a writer. E-books offer opportunities authors haven’t had in centuries. But the publishing industry is in flux. How will it all shake out? I don’t know. This topic occupies thousands of column inches and blog arguments and conference panels and publishing meetings. All I can tell you is: Write. Write like hell and focus on the work.

As for the devaluation of books, I’m with Taylor Swift: Art has value, and should be paid for.

Danielle asks:

What will your next book be about? Also have you considered writing another book with some of your characters from one of your stand alone books.

My job involves keeping readers in suspense. So, to answer your questions: a thriller. And yes.

Claire Marie O’Brien asks:

Are you Irish?

Irish, Scottish, Welsh, German, and Chickasaw.

(And DJ: As a Brit, you might not have seen the Saturday Night Live skit about “Shimmer” — the dessert topping and floor wax.)

Question Time 2015: Answers Part III

Today’s Q&A features Evan Delaney and seditious monkeys.

First, two questions about Evan.

From Anne:

I just started your Evan Delaney series and I just love her. Will you write another Delaney book? Or did you have a reason to stop with the 5th book?

And from Susan:

Me too. Still waiting for the next Evan and Jesse episode. But I can understand if you’ve moved on. (Maybe though, just a hint of an epilogue?)

Guys. I’ll never move on from Evan and Jesse. They’re the characters I’ve lived with the longest and love like hell. I took a break from the series because I had other stories I wanted to write, and because my publishers were eager to publish the Jo Beckett novels and my stand alones. But I haven’t forgotten Evan. In the past few years a lot has been going on in the background. The novels were optioned for development by Fox TV. I spent time with the screenwriter working on the pilot script. The series wasn’t picked up (nothing new there; it’s Hollywood) but the project is still out there. And I have a folder on my computer titled “Evan Delaney: Novel 6.”

In the meantime, Jesse makes cameo appearances in several other novels, and Evan is featured along with Jo Beckett in The Nightmare Thief. I hope that’ll hold you for now.

Next: In my original Question Time 2015 post, I said, “Ask me anything — about my books, writing, publishing, how to train an army of monkeys to infiltrate the White House — whatever’s on your mind.”

From Bill Malloy:

Hmm, how would you train an army of monkeys to infiltrate the White House?

Smartass. I’ve been training these monkeys for years now. YEARS. If you think I’m going to reveal my techniques, you’re nuts. Get your own monkeys and get to work.

Or, you know, you could take them on the White House Tour.