Monday, August 11, 2014

Another trip, another library

I was walking back to my hotel today, and without realizing where I was I managed to walk up to the National Library of Ireland. I think my brain is wired to take me to libraries automatically. I didn't have the opportunity to spend as much time as I would have liked (a month would have been nice), but as is my custom, I got a shot of myself in front of the library. This time it was a selfie, so you only see the library sign in the background, but I was there.

Greetings from Dublin!

I don't care what anyone says, there are sunny days in Ireland. Today I toured the National Gallery, then walked back on a long, circuitous route that took me past the National Library, then to St. Stephen's Green (where this lovely garden was in bloom), then to tea at Voila, finally walking along the canal back to our hotel. 

It was such a delightful day I wanted to spend as much time outside as I could, and the large number of sun worshippers in the park seemed to agree.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review--Fanning the Flames

I really enjoyed this romance, primarily because the protagonists were seasoned adults, not YA or NA.  Reading about people who were old enough to know what they want and go after it made me happy.

In fact, I'd like to read more romances with protagonists in their 50s having wild monkey sex. Sure, there would be Astroglide and little blue pills involved, but it would still be fun for readers of a certain demographic.

I'm looking forward to reading the next Girls' Night Out story. Ms. Dahl, like her heroes, always satisfies.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Happy Birthday, USCG

Fifteen hundred dollars worth of coffee coming in duty free meant a
tidy profit, whether it was Delerue-Sanders behind the smuggling or
someone else. A simple plan, but one that worked all too well given the
poor state of the Revenue Marine. The revenue cutters couldn’t begin
to cover all of the coast, not when the ships were spread thin with
surveying, rescue operations, and winter cruising between Charleston
and Key West. Underfunded, understaffed, looked down on by the
regular navy, despised by the merchants who paid the tariffs, the
Revenue Marine was no one’s darling.
Well, except maybe Alexander Hamilton, he’d loved his revenue cutters that brought money into the Treasury, but look what happened to him, Washburn thought. Irritate the wrong people and there you are, worm food.

The United States Coast Guard, aka the Revenue-Marine, aka the Revenue Cutter Service was founded on this day in 1790 by US Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. Happy Birthday, Coast Guard! You can read more about the role of the Revenue Marine in Territorial Florida in Smuggler's Bride. It was fun researching that novel and learning the Coast Guard's history, and the USCG deserves a salute on its special day.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Review--The Silkworm

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike, #2)The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent mystery, wonderfully snarky insiders' look at publishing and authors behaving badly. "Whodunnit?" kept me guessing until the last quarter of the book, and even then I couldn't figure out the motive until it was all revealed.

The only reason I didn't give it five stars was the POV shifts in the middle of a scene. I realize it's becoming a more common style, but I still find it jarring.

I look forward to more Cormoran Strike mysteries!

View all my reviews

Friday, August 01, 2014

Review--Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation

Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and SegregationRedefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation by Estelle B. Freedman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating look at a topic still very much in the news. How do we define sexual assault, and how, historically, have charges of sexual assault been used as a political weapon? In addition, how are certain populations disenfranchised from exercising the right to charge sexual assault?

An important look at historic American attitudes that still play out today in questions of power, race and sexuality.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan, now in paper!

Today is release day for the paperback edition of A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan, which I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing as an ARC earlier this year. I gave it five stars:

"It's cliched to say 'I couldn't put it down!', but that's how I felt about A Dangerous Fiction. Rogan brings an insider's keen view, pulling the reader into the New York publishing milieu with all of its jealousies, intrigue, excitement and larger-than-life personalities. At the heart of the story is a woman's need to uncover the truths about her own life, even as she's the target of malevolent foes she can't identify. Danger, suspense, romance and the deep bonds of friendship--A Dangerous Fiction has it all.
(Disclaimer--I received an advance review copy of this novel from the publisher)"

I also had the pleasure of doing a Q&A with Barbara in advance of today's release:

Q: Why does the New York literary scene make a good setting for a murder mystery?
A: It’s a natural fit, because publishing really is murder. Passions run high, rejection is rampant, and some people just can’t handle it. The incident that opens A DANGEROUS FICTION shows a literary agent, Jo Donovan, being stalked by an aggrieved writer. That’s a scenario that can happen and has happened in real life.

I also think the novel provides a useful portrayal of publishing from the inside, which is very different from the way it looks on the outside. I was a literary agent myself for many years, so I know that world from many angles, and I enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in it again. It’s a fun world to write about, because the characters need to be sharp, witty people who love to talk and do it well.

Q: Your heroine is a woman of a certain age, not an ingenue. Is the market ripe for protagonists who are past their 20's and have some life experience?
A: That may very well be true, since you are certainly describing the largest reader demographic for fiction. But Jo’s age, 35, was determined by the needs of the story. I wanted a heroine who was young for her position, but old enough to have been married ten years and widowed three.

Q: The ending of A Dangerous Fiction left the door open for further developments. What's next for Jo? 
 A: I’m not close to finished with Jo Donovan yet. She has a lot of secrets, not all of which were revealed in the first book. I’m discovering more of them now in the sequel, in which Jo’s friend and client Gordon Hayes gets into terrible trouble when one of his trained attack dogs kills a man. A lot of my favorite characters from A DANGEROUS FICTION return in the sequel, and Jo has an intense new relationship, so it’s a continuation of her story as well as a brand-new mystery.

Want more info? From the publisher:

In A DANGEROUS FICTION (Penguin Books; $15.00; ISBN: 978-0-143-12565-5; on sale July 29, 2014), Barbara Rogan delivers a nail-biting and deeply entertaining mystery—set in the heart of the New York City publishing world. Thirty-five-year-old Jo Donovan always manages to come out on top. Originally from the backwoods of Appalachia, she worked hard to achieve her dream of living amongst the literati of Manhattan as the wife of renowned author (and notorious playboy) Hugo Donovan. Upon Hugo’s untimely death, Jo becomes the owner of one of the most prestigious literary agencies in town, wheeling and dealing with charm, a biting wit, and a backbone of steel.

When a would-be client turns stalker, accosting Jo on the street one evening during a torrential rainstorm, she initially writes it off as just another occupational hazard. Since he was wearing a trench coat and fedora, Jo nicknames him “Sam Spade.” But when her agency is sabotaged and her authors fall prey to sadistic attacks, Jo senses something far more sinister is at work.

As her web of suspicion grows wider her circle of friends draws nearer; yet all signs point to an inside job. Then harassment escalates to murder and Jo turns to the authorities, supported by her client and friend, Max Messinger, a former FBI profiler turned bestselling thriller writer. At the police station she finds herself face-to-face with a handsome old flame—who is now an NYPD detective. He may still carry a torch for Jo…or a grudge. With little evidence to work with, everyone is a suspect, even Jo herself.

A DANGEROUS FICTION is a white-knuckle thriller, but it’s also a remarkable insider’s view of the book publishing world. Fast-paced, urgently suspenseful, and sparkling with wicked wit, Barbara Rogan’s superb storytelling will keep readers on their toes until the very last page.

About the Author:

Barbara Rogan is a former literary agent and the author of eight novels and coauthor of two
nonfiction books. Her fiction has been translated into six languages. She has taught fiction writing at Hofstra University and currently teaches for Writers Digest University and in her own online school, Next Level Workshops. She lives on Long Island and blogs at Visit her and

A DANGEROUS FICTIONBy Barbara RoganPenguin Books; $15.00; ISBN: 978-0-143-12565-5On-Sale: July 29, 2014 or

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Schedule for Loncon3--World Science Fiction Convention in London

I have my final schedule for Loncon3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, UK. You can read my con bio here, and I'm looking forward to jetting across the pond and seeing old friends, as well as meeting new ones. There's a nifty app to help you schedule your time at Loncon, and you can download it in iPhone or Android formats. 

Where there's an (M) next to my name, I'm the moderator for that item.  I'll also be doing a reading from either The Pirate's Secret Baby or the WIP [Mattie's Book]. Don't forget, The Pirate's Secret Baby, along with all my previous novels, can be purchased from Amazon Kindle UK, as well as at NOOK, Kobo and other ebook dealers. Paper editions are available in the US.

I'll be out and about at the con as a fan as well as a programme participant. If you see me, please come up to me and say "Hi!" Worldcon is no place to be shy, we're there to see friends and fans!

Teen Romance

Friday 15:00 - 16:30, Capital Suite 10 (ExCeL)

Romance is in the air! Authors discuss the trend of weaving romantic entanglements into young adult literature. From true love to pining for that special someone, authors tackle the thorny subject of love, sex, and the supernatural--not to mention the fateful first kiss. What is it about a supernatural love interest that leaves mere mortals a distant second? Is there a discernible difference in how teen romance is handled between SF/F and its peer genres? And how far is too far when writing teen romance?

Mary Anne Mohanraj (M), Amie Kaufman, Mary Turzillo, Sarah Rees Brennan, Darlene Marshall

Sex in SF&F: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Saturday 11:00 - 12:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Genre fiction's relationship to sex can best be described as 'It's Complicated'. While a sub-genre such as paranormal romance is sometimes belittled for its libido, other fields play it overly coy or, worse still, deal with sex almost entirely within the context of sexual(ised) violence; moreover, space given to non-heteronormative sexualities is small and may even been dissipating. What has occasioned such divergent approaches? How can portrayals of sex in general be used to communicate more complex and positive ideas and responses? Whatever happened to fumbling foreplay, the intimacy of commitment, and the post-coital chat?

Darlene Marshall (M), Tiffani Angus, Terry Jackman, Stephanie Osborn, Jennifer Stevenson

Coming of Age in Game of Thrones

Saturday 18:00 - 19:00, Capital Suite 14 (ExCeL)

In a world were life and death hang in the balance for every character no matter how despised or loved, it is the children who pay the heaviest price. Their parents' plots and intrigues sit squarely upon the shoulders of the Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen children, snatching their childhoods away and forcing them to wield their own power to survive the game of thrones. But have the adults underestimated their children's value as players? Who will survive? Who will gain power? Will they have a chance to be children again? And who will be the biggest surprise? At what point do these children, despite their tender ages, take on the mantels of their parents and become adults themselves? Panelists will examine issues surrounding childhood and coming of age during a time of conflict where familial normalcy is gone and the rules of their world are in the process of being rewritten. *Spoiler Alert: Discussion will include all previously published books within the series.*

Darlene Marshall (M), Liz de Jager, John Hornor Jacobs, Django Wexler

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Sunday 14:30 - 15:00, London Suite 1 (ExCeL)

Darlene Marshall(

When Genres Collide: Does SF&F have its own form?

Monday 10:00 - 11:00, Capital Suite 7+12 (ExCeL)

Science fiction and fantasy often borrows structures and forms from other genres like noir, western, romance, etc. What are the structures and forms that are native to science fiction and fantasy? Are these storytelling conventions that can be exported to mainstream fiction? What is it about science fiction and fantasy that makes it so flexible for folding in other genres?

Duncan Lawie (M), Peter Higgins, Darlene Marshall, Nick Harkaway