Friday, July 31, 2009

Mystery Authors on Twitter list now on a wiki

I have had more hits on my Mystery, Suspense and Thriller authors post from way back in March of this year than anything else.

It really needed a better format and easier way to update. I've have been trying alot of things in order to get a Table with the information in it in this blog, and none really worked well. I had in mind that wiki might provide a better platform for it, and it was a matter of finding a wiki format that I could actually use effectively. I really wanted to use a table because of the tidy columns and rows which could be labeled and not be just a long scrolling list.

Luckily, somewhere back in the dim reaches of my Internet wanderings I had created a wiki with Wikispaces. I took a look at its tutorial page and it looked easy to create and add to a table. So voila! I created a new wiki, which I intend to use for booklists and other information I create and would like to add to and update over time.

Here then is the new page for Mystery, Suspense and Thriller authors on Twitter. I welcome any additions. You can comment here or I think just click on Notify Me right on the wiki and I'll add the author in. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Narrative Non-Fiction: True Tales That Read Like Novels

Narrative non-fiction in its simplest definition is "non-fiction that reads like a novel."

Edward Humes says It is hard to imagine a more vibrant genre, combining the immediacy of journalism and the power of true accounts with the texture, read, drama, emotional punch and broad themes of a novel.

I don't tend to read much non-fiction myself, having some left-over baggage from college, I think, that makes me feel I might be tested on the material. I do read gardening books, and biographies of authors and movie stars without any such problems for some reason. I like the idea of narrative non-fiction telling the facts in a more interesting, yet factual way.

Many of the titles on this list have been wildly popular with our customers for long periods of time. Word of mouth is that these are MUST READS, wonderful books!

The titles are culled from the depth of the Web. The Floating Lush, my partner in booklist-making crime, had quite a few suggestions as well.

Read more about narrative or "creative" non-fiction:

Edward Humes Narrative Non-Fiction page

Welcome to the Hinterlands: a Narrative Non-Fiction Blog

Riverteeth: a Journal of Non-Fiction Narrative

About Alice/by Trillin, Calvin

An American childhood/by Dillard, Annie

Among schoolchildren/by Kidder, Tracy

Angela's ashes : a memoir/by McCourt, Frank

The bell jar/by Plath, Sylvia

Book of the courtesans: a catalogue of their virtues/by Griffin, Susan

Bringing down the house : the inside story of six MIT students who took Vegas for millions/by Mezrich, Ben

Byron in love : a short daring life/by O'Brien, Edna

Candyfreak : a journey through the chocolate underbelly of America/by Almond, Steve

Coal : a human history/Freese, Barbara

Crazy for the storm : a memoir of survival/by Ollestad, Norman

The devil in the white city : murder, magic, and madness at the fair that changed America/by Larson, Erik

Devil's gentlemen: privelege, poison, and the trial that ushered in the twentieth century/by Schecter, Harold

Dispatches/by Herr, Michael

The dogs of Bedlam Farm : an adventure with sixteen sheep, three dogs, two donkeys, and me/by Katz, Jon

Down and out in Paris and London/by Orwell, George

Driving like crazy : thirty years of vehicular hellbending, celebrating America the way it's supposed to be-- with an oil well in every backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in every carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank mowing our lawn
by O'Rourke, P. J.

Eggs in the coffee, sheep in the corn : my 17 years as a farmwife/by Douglas, Marjorie M.

The executioner's song/by Mailer, Norman

Expecting Adam : a true story of birth, rebirth, and everyday magic/by Beck, Martha

Fast food nation : the dark side of the all-American meal/by Schlosser, Eric

Fear and loathing in Las Vegas : a savage journey to the heart of the American dream/by Thompson, Hunter S.

Forger's spell: a true story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the greatest art hoax of the twentieth century/by Dolnick, Edward

Funny in Farsi: a memoir of growing up Iranian in America/by Dumas, Firoozeh

Galileo's daughter : a historical memoir of science, faith, and love/by Sobel, Dava

A heartbreaking work of staggering genius/by Eggers, Dave

Hiroshima/by Hersey, John

The hot zone/by Preston, Richard

In a sunburned country/by Bryson, Bill

In cold blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
by Capote, Truman

Into the wild/by Krakauer, Jon

Into thin air : a personal account of the Mount Everest disaster/by Krakauer, Jon

Isaac's storm : a man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history/by Larson, Erik

It's not about the bike : my journey back to life/by Armstrong, Lance

Kick me: adventures in adolescence/ by Feig, Paul

Life and death in Shanghai/by Cheng, Nien

Man bites log : the unlikely adventures of a city guy in the woods/by Alexander, Max

The man who mistook his wife for a hat : and other clinical tales/by Sacks, Oliver

Midnight in the garden of good and evil : a Savannah story/by Berendt, John

A million little pieces/by Frey, James

Mistress of the Elgin Marbles: a biography of Mary Nisbet, Countess of Elgin/by Nagel, Susan

Nickel and dimed : on (not) getting by in America/by Ehrenreich, Barbara

Notes from a small island/by Bryson, Bill

Notes of a native son/by Baldwin, James

The omnivore's dilemma : a natural history of four meals/by Pollan, Michael

Panic in level 4 : cannibals, killer viruses, and other journeys to the edge of science/by Preston, Richard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek/by Dillard, Annie

The professor and the madman : a tale of murder, insanity, and the making of the Oxford English dictionary/by Winchester, Simon

Reading the OED: one man, one year, 21,730 pages/by Shea, Ammon

The right stuff/by Wolfe, Tom

Seabiscuit : an American legend/by Hillenbrand, Laura

The $64 tomato/by Alexander, William

The soul of a new machine/by Kidder, Tracy

The spirit catches you and you fall down : a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures/by Fadiman, Anne

Stiff : the curious lives of human cadavers/by Roach, Mary

The things they carried : a work of fiction/by O'Brien, Tim

Traffic: why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us)/by Vanderbilt, Tom

Will in the world: how Shakespeare became Shakespeare/by Greenblatt, Stephen

A Voyage long and strange: rediscovering the new world/by Horowitz, Tony

A Year in Provence/by Mayle, Peter

The Year of living Biblically: one man's humble quest to follow the Bible as literally as possible/by Jacobs, A. J.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

One of those meme thingies

I saw this on Facebook but couldn't get the stupid thing to copy and paste. Facebook, as a web application is annoying and needs a boot in the something or other. Apparently Facebook should be in my "pet peeves" answer.

1. What time did you get up this morning?

2. How do you like your steak?
well done, no bloody beast for me

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

4. What is/are your favorite TV show(s)?
Lost, Survivor

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Right here.

6. What did you have for breakfast?
French Toast

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
American mish mash

8. What foods do you dislike?
fish, fish, fish. Weird body parts

9. Favorite Place to Eat?

10. Favorite dressing?

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive?

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Jeans and a t-shirt

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
Ireland, England, San Francisco, Australia

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full?
Both *doh*

15. Where would you want to retire?
Home sweet home

16. Favorite time of day?
Early morning

17. Where were you born?
Mpls, MN

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?

19. Bird watcher?

20. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Grumpy both

21. Pets?
Two beagles

25. Any new and exciting news that you'd like to share?
I bought two new notebooks!

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
Librarian, natch

27. What is your first childhood memory?
No clue

28. Are you a cat or dog person?

29. Are you married?

30. Always wear your seat belt?

31. Been in a car accident?
Hard to call

32. Any pet peeves?
Cell phone bozos, neighbors who jump out of the shrubbery

33. Favorite pizza topping?

34. Favorite Flower?

35. Favorite ice cream?

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
Taco Bell

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?

38. From whom did you get your last email?
Twitter saying some semi-nude woman is following me *again*

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Barnes & Noble

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
Hugged husband.

41. Like your job?
95% of the time. That last 5% is a pain in the wazoo.

42. Broccoli?
Yes, any old way is good.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
Going to Disneyland circa 1995. Happiest place on earth, indeed.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
Ms. Marlene, if lunch at the park counts.

45. What are you listening to right now?
Sounds of rare beagle silence

46. What is your favorite color?

47. How many tattoos do you have?
ick, none

48.How many are you tagging for this quiz?
potentially millions. /joking

49. What time did you finish this quiz?
5:25 p.m.

50. Coffee Drinker?
I love coffee!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


How I love babies and I love Evian water. Here they are perfectly combined.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Although it is wonderful to see the actors who play the characters grow up and move through the Harry Potter storyline, the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince leaves out so much in the way of key plot elements that it is like getting a not always accurate series of snapshots from the books instead of film version of the increasingly complex story.

Without going point for point, I have to say the two worst things were the lack of backstory for Snape, the titular Half Blood Prince, and the poorly and inaccurately handled death of beloved Dumbledore.

Film has the potential with character voice, visual expression and music to be more powerful than the literary source if handled well. The entire scene was altered. Harry was not invisible or frozen helplessly as he was in the book. He merely watched Dumbledore die and did nothing. And even once Dumbledore was dead, you really could not see the grief nor feel it as you should as you looked at the characters who knew and loved him.

This bodes ill for the next set of films where all of those complex plot threads and characters must come together in a last desperate fight against evil. All of these characters we have come to know in the books--their stories must matter, and their deaths must matter to us. It can't be telegraphed for general audiences. It is a powerful story and it is not fair to anyone to make it end blandly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Super Action Comic Maker

When the going gets tough, the tough get 'tooning, I always say. I was looking for something else and I found this new cartooning tool. Choose from several characters and backgrounds, then add in your own captions to the text balloons. Voila, instant comic tale.

Click to Enlarge

This fine toon dedicated to Bill Crider, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mysteries.

Make your own comic at ArtisanCam.

Mystery a Month Discussion: Erin Hart's Haunted Ground

Haunted Ground is the story of a perfectly preserved woman's head that rises to the top of a peat bog in Ireland. The mystery of her identity after several centuries brings an archealogical team to the area. Complicating matters is the search for a local woman and her son who have disappeared, and who are feared to be in the bog as well.

Our mystery group said they wouldn't mind if I put a short bit here on our book discussion.

One question we always ask at some point in the discussion is "did you enjoy this book and would you read more by this author?" Unanimously everyone enjoyed the book and would read more.

The next book is Lake of Sorrows (which a couple of people had gone on to read on their own). In the works, according to Hart's web site is False Mermaid.

Also on her site are book discussion questions for book groups for both Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows. I usually make up my own questions but decided to try these.

We made it to about question nine before time ran out. Our discussion of bogs and "secrets" was quite lively. The concept of forensics meaning more than just examining crime scenes was fascinating. We spent time talking about the experience of immigrants and how culture can be lost for their children over time as they are assimilated into our own culture.

One of our members who couldn't attend emailed her comments about the book. This is a great idea for those who love a book but can't make the event.

I forgot to mention to our group that Erin Hart will "attend" your book group via phone, according to her site:

Monday through Friday, from 7 to 11 p.m. CST, I’ll be available to join your book club by phone anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. (Book clubs should have at least 10 members and a speaker phone.)

Next month we read "any book by Walter Mosley". When we do this, we have each person talk a little about the particular book they read, then I'll fill in a little background about the author and we discuss more broadly character, writing style, themes, how the book fits or not into its particular genre.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dilbert Mashup: try this at home!

Click to Enlarge

I read the terms of use very carefully to make sure I could copy this here.

Go to the Dilbert website and choose Mashups to add in the last panel of text on one of Scott Adam's cartoons. It is sort of like one of those tell an alternate story ending things. You can publish it on his site, or email it to your friends. Very cool. You'll need to register in order to use this most excellent tool.

You can add a widget to your site such as the one I have added. This gives you access to the daily strip and historical ones as well. You may also sign up when you register to have the toons sent to you daily, and there is a newsletter as well.

The Seance by John Harwood

Having read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins for our mystery book group last month, I was in the mood for more gothic/Victorian suspense. Reviews I've read compare The Seance to The Woman in White and other "sensational" novels. This is one of those books that regular customers ask me if I've read and then say "you have to read it!"

I grew up reading Victoria Holt, Norah Lofts, Barbara Michaels, Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, Jane Aiken Hodge, and Isabelle Holland's "gothic" romances. I loved the remote settings, the air of dread and the touch of romance.

The Seance is like that, but exceptionally well written, and the suspense level is considerably higher than in the old gothics. Crumbling Wraxford Hall with its secret passages, lightning rods, and ornamental coffin is one of the scariest places I've encountered in ages.

The motives of the villain and the delicate mental state of the narrators make it hard to guess what is really going on, and if there are supernatural events taking place or not.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Online Drawing Tools

I confess I miss 23 Things and More on a Stick already. There were so many sites to explore and possibilities for creating interesting things. My tricksy mind works in mysterious ways (ask anyone) and I thought hmmm there are cartooning tools, could there be online drawing tools? Yes indeed.

I found a site called Ag Design that has an article with dozens of inventive drawing tools.

These often work like Microsoft Paint does, giving you a variably sized stylus and color palette. The example below drawn by my shaky looking hand is from In addition to the simple drawing tool, you can replay the creation of the drawing, undo strokes, or email your creation off to some poor schmuck.

Pretend you wanted to tell an online story with simple drawings or maps. A baseball or other sports coach could draw out sample plays or show where mistakes where made.

Too useful for words, I know.


This uses one of those Google Map Mashups, mark places on your map and write notes right on the map.


This is fun! You draw in a small drawing box and flickr images that "match", sort of, what you drew come up. I tried a few things such as a dog and a tree that the program didn't see as those things. See here that my stylized cat was recognized at least a couple of times. I don't know what it is thinking for the other results.


Whether you can draw or not, Scribbler adds pencil effects and makes your sketch look classy.

Go forth and sketch!