Coming March 24: The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook


Here’s something new for you: The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook.

Along with “plot stirrers” such as Lee Child, Charlaine Harris, and James Patterson, I have a recipe included. (To all my relatives: stop laughing. Right now. Just stop.) The book will be published March 24. Check it out at the link above.

Sneak peek: Phantom Instinct paperback cover


My editor just sent me this to double check and approve. It’s the cover of the U.S. paperback edition of Phantom Instinct, coming in June.

Yes, I still get giddy seeing the covers of my books, even in PDF form.

50 Shades, Alien 5, book snobs: weekend writing links


Because I love writing, and books, and studying how storytelling works, I presume you do too. So here are a few links to writing about writing.

First: Jeet Heer writes a quick and insightful Twitter essay: 50 Shades, Romantic Comedies, & Keynesian Economics.

As a teacher of story structure, a lover of myth, and an Econ major, I eat this stuff up.

Second: the best Alien-related news I could ever have hoped for. Alien 5 to Ignore Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection.

“Neill Blomkamp’s new Alien film will be picking up the story after James Cameron’s Aliens…”

Weaver told Sky Movies that “I would love to take Ripley out of orbiting around in space and give a proper finish to what was such an excellent story. So when somebody like Neill Blomkamp suddenly said ‘well, I’m interested in finishing the story’, my little ears perked up.”

It was Blomkamp who dropped the big revelation though. “I want this film to feel like it is literally the genetic sibling of Aliens. So it’s Alien, Aliens, this movie.”

Yep: the new Alien film is seeming going to wipe Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection out of the series’ continuity.


Alien scared me to hell. Aliens is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. And ninety seconds into Alien 3, I wanted to torch the movie screen. After the thrilling, tragic, heroic story in Aliens, I hated what the filmmakers did to Newt and Cpl. Hicks. They tossed them into an ash heap, almost casually. And to my livid, frothing mind, they did it because they wanted to write a story set on an ore mining planet, and that story didn’t have room for the characters Ripley had fought nearly to the death to save. So Newt and Hicks were disposed of.

I walked out of the theater with clenched fists. I’ve spent more than 20 years determined to convince myself that the Alien 3 story NEVER HAPPENED. Sweet motherloving Jesus, I am still angry about it.

But now Sigourney Weaver and director Neill Blomkamp have a chance to set things right. JUSTICE AT LAST.

This is how writers feel about the importance of story. Just so you know.

Finally, at Hey Dead Guy, Erin Mitchell explains How To Be a Book Snob.

1. Use the phrase “transcends the genre” frequently and in a complimentary fashion. […]

2. Damn genre authors with faint praise at every opportunity.

3. Choose one or two popular genre novels and refer to them as your guilty pleasure. You need not have actually read them.


7. Should you happen to encounter a writer of said genre novels in the course of your fabulous life, be sure to educate him or her all that is wrong with genre fiction.

From personal experience, I’ll add: If you speak to a mystery author…

(a) Always state this disclaimer: “Normally I would never read a mystery — I only read Aristotle, and histories of the Napoleonic Wars — but I must admit that your novel was good.”

(b) Pull us aside and — quietly, like you’re performing an intervention — tell us: “You have real talent. Promise me that some day you’ll stop squandering it and write a real book.”

Read books that you love. Don’t feel guilty. Do occasionally stretch yourself. Read new authors and new genres. Switch from fiction to non-fiction, or vice versa. Occasionally pick up a classic. But books should be a pleasure. Never let people dissuade you from loving them.

Book giveaway: the winners


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.
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


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


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.