Last fall was so nuts that I didn’t read a single book. Or shall I say a single fiction book. But I made up a lot of ground during the holidays, and thought I would catch you up.
I read IF WALLS COULD TALK by Juliet Blackwell, THE DIVA COOKS A GOOSE by Krista Davis, HOLIDAY GRIND by Cleo Coyle and DEATH OF AN AMBITIOUS WOMAN by Barbara Ross. I am fans of the Diva series, and the Coffehouse series and these holiday themed books didn’t disappoint. IF WALLS COULD TALK promised to be a good series as well.
DEATH OF AN AMBITIOUS WOMAN is Barbara Ross’s first published novel. It is not a cozy, but more of a traditional mystery. And it is wonderful. I highly recommend it.
Now that I’ve rejoined the reading world I have started Rachel Brady’s DEAD LIFT. I will report back.
This weekend I am going to Crime Bake. During the weekend I will be on a signing panel for THIN ICE, the new anthology by Level Best Books. “Tag, You’re Dead” is the first story I’ve ever had published. Here’s the blog post that featured me as an author. I am thrilled to be part of this collection. For a lot of reasons.
I missed the first Crime Bake, but have been to every one since. My friend Regina went with me that first year, 2003, the year Level Best Books first anthology was released. Regina bought it, and walked around asking everyone to sign their stories.
“Wouldn’t it be cool to be in it some year?” she asked me.
Maybe next year I said.
But next year Regina wasn’t able to make it to Crime Bake. She had been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer in May, and was in the hospital. The next year she was gone.
Regina was a force. I didn’t know her long (we’d met in a mystery writing class), but I do think of her every year around Crime Bake. This year another friend of ours is also in THIN ICE. When I sent Mary a congratulatory email, she wrote back.
“Wouldn’t Regina be proud?” she said.
Regina would be very proud. As am I.
Did you watch SHERLOCK on PBS? Didn’t love the ending (not a fan of indeterminate amount of time cliff hangers) but I loved the too short series. A wonderful homage to the stories. Fabulous updates within the spirit. I especially loved the retake on John Watson. In many ways this is his story as well, and it is a good one. If you missed it, find it. And let me know what you think.
Who read all of Stieg Larsson‘s novels on her vacation. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The Girl Who Played with Fire. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I had heard so much about these books. My book club selected the first one for our next book. I’ve been reading DorothyL posts about them. And I’ve archived an in depth reading/picking apart of Dragon Tattoo.
One problem with being a writer is that it is hard to turn the critic off. And I’ll admit, I was wary when I waded in. There are a ton of characters. Lots of info dumps. But I decided to just go along for the ride.
And what a ride it was. Two good stories (I count Dragon Tattoo as one, and Fire and Hornet’s Nest as two parts of the same story) well told. And two great characters. Mikael Blomkvist. And especially Lisbeth Salander.
I normally don’t like noir, or graphic violence. And there is plenty of both. That said, I got through them, because I wanted to find out what happened.
I think I may try and see the movies. Or should I let them live in my imagination for a while longer? What do you think?
I have a friend who is a poet. For a long time she was working on her poems, taking workshops and working closely with a mentor. But it wasn’t until she started an MFA program and met other poets in varying stage of development and all about support that she finally said to me “I get it now. I’ve found my tribe.”
As a writer, you do lonely work writing, editing, thinking. No one can help you with most of this. Sure, you get feedback. But incorporating it is another solitary activity. So you have to find your tribe. Fellow writers who “get” your work, your genre, your passion.
Years ago I was at a Malice Domestic conference with a friend. She was in a long line, shipping back a box of books (one of the challenges of conferences is how to get the haul back home). She met Dana Cameron, who suggested (invited) Regina and I to join the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime. As very new, unpublished writers we were nervous, but we went to a meeting. And found our tribe.
Sisters in Crime‘s mission is “to promote the professional development and advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.” Which they do. And they do so much more.
There is nothing like sitting in a room full of mystery writers learning about craft, or poison, or forensics, or investigation. There is nothing like sharing a passion with other people, and not having to explain it. There is nothing like belonging to an online group (like the magnificent Guppies) who cheer success, congratulate failure (it means you got out there and tried) and offer advice.
If you are a writer, find your tribe. If you are a mystery writer, join Sisters in Crime. (And Mystery Writers of America, though I haven’t made that leap yet). The tribe is waiting to meet you.
I wrote my thesis on Agatha Christie, and her use of POV. One of the books I used was Murder on the Orient Express. Because of that, I have read it (over and over and over) fairly recently. I am a fan of the 1974 film.
I am also a fan of Agatha Christie. She is sometimes dismissed, but shouldn’t be. She was a master of her craft, and contributed a great deal to the genre. And 30 plus years after her death, she is still widely read. (Another blog post to come, I see.)
I will leave my rants about the recent Miss Marples to another post. This one is for the 2010 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, starring the quintessential Poirot, David Suchet. The cast was wonderful. The production values were fabulous. But the adaptation. Mais non.
There were changes to the story (spoiler alert) like a stoning at the beginning (which Poirot seems to condone) and the seeming lack of a relationship between M. Bouc and Poirot that made me nervous about other changes, but I went with the flow. I know that a 2010 version, made in the shadow of the great 1974 film, would have changes. But where 1974 was a faithful adaptation, 2010 was more of an inspired by. And herein lies the problem. By tweaking the plot (to make it darker?), they ruined the story.
Some of my biggest problems? Colonel Arbuthnot considers murder to cover up his crime? No. Poirot doesn’t solve the case, but has it explained to him by the Princess Dragomiroff (not Caroline Hubbard? Was that because Eileen Atkins was playing the Princess?) No. The doctor is part of the conspiracy? No. And Poirot fights for the Law over Justice? No.
I will discuss what they’ve done to Miss Marple in another post, but I’ve come to expect those. But to have David Suchet play Poirot in a version of Murder on the Orient Express that I hated? Such a waste.