Random Thursday: Write this down . . .

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā):  the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s acquired during the week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as actually sitting down and creating real content.

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epic win photos - Font Graffiti WIN


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Twenty Years is a long time to wait for one sentence . . .

. . . unless you’re John Irving.

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So, You Want to FTF?

Zoë Sharp, who is one of my favorite author-people,  interviewed Timothy Hallinan—author, instructor, blogger, cool guy—the other day on Murderati,* one of my favorite author-people places.

It was mentioned that Mr. Halligan  teaches courses on how to start and finish novels and had gathered his thought on the subject in one place on his website.

So I clicked over to check them out.  I read one or two of his articles . . . then a few more. . . and then  . . .

I bookmarked the page, closed out and started writing.

They’re that good.

And they’re right here.

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Nice One, Kid . . .

These are the earrings I picked up for myself at the Mall on Sunday while I was trying to ignore Janie.

“Those are perfect for you, Mom!” said Janie, as I was paying for everything.

“Why?” said Sunny, momentarily distracted from her new yellow flower purse.**

“Because they’re little pencils,” said Janie.  “And she’s a . . .”

“A Mommy?”

“No.  Well, yeah, but she writes stuff.  And writers need . .  .”

“Erasers?”

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Garrison Keillor says I can write fanfiction about Pirate Ninja Nuns from Mars***

So there, nyah.

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Social anxieties and spontaneous credit card combustion be damned—I registered for Bouchercon last night.

I also scored accommodations, though not quite what I’d wanted.  The convention center has already sold out of the reserved block—the only room available in the hotel, if the reservation person was to be believed, was a three-person suite for $339 a night, which was tempting . . . but no.

I booked a room a block away and will frugally, if not cheerfully, schlep myself and my stuff back and forth.

So the only things I’m missing are a signed vacation slip^ and transportation, since my beloved Rocinante is in no shape to make the trip and I’d rather not fly if I can help it.^^

So if anyone within reach of this post hails from my part of the Midwest and plans to go to Bouchercon—or has always hankered to explore scenic Cleveland, it’s not my place to judge^^^—I’ll pay my share of gas and parking if you want to carpool or guard your stuff if you want to train- or buspool.

And if any of my posse are interested in sharing expenses for a suite . . .

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*While you’re there, check out the amazing Q&A by Gar Harwood and Brad Parks.  Two brilliant men riffing off each other—priceless.

**It should be noted that she was sitting on the counter through this exchange because she refused to be parted from her new favoritest thing ever long enough for the clerk to scan the tag.

***Because I miss the Biker Mice, that’s why.

^I have to wait for the quarterly forms to come out, but it shouldn’t be a problem.  If it is, I’ll either cancel or hold one heck of a poetry contest.

^^It’s not fear, it’s impatience,  disgust, and expense, pretty much in that order.

^^^Though I’ll do it anyway, since I was born and (more or less) raised in Cincinnati, which means judging Cleveland is a deeply ingrained tradition.  But I hear the river up there is gorgeous now that it’s no longer bursting into flame on a regular basis . . . and for Laura, I’ll keep quiet—if she promises not to bring up the Reds or the Bengals or Jerry Springer or Mapplethorpe . . . never mind.

You read me! You really read me! : A mixed blessing in one act

I was sitting at the public desk this afternoon, when one of our regular patrons—and my secret favorite—came up, said, “I hear you’re looking for a copy of this,” and tossed a trade-sized paperback at me. “I want it back when you’re done.”

I caught it gingerly—this patron has a sense of humor that recommends caution—and examined it:

“Hey, thanks!” I said. “How did you know?”

“You said you couldn’t find it in that review you wrote about her stories last week.”

“You read my blog?” I asked, thinking nervously of the F-Bomb thing last Sunday.

“Only when you write interesting stuff.”

Fair enough.  “How’d you find it?”

“That Top Suspense review you did a while back. You’ve been slacking on the reviews, lately.”

“I haven’t had time.”

“Make time.  But only for books I’ll like.”

“Maybe I’ll do this one,” I said, lifting Killer Instinct.

“Why? I’ve already read it.”

“There could be one or two other people who haven’t.”

“Other people read your blog?”

“At least six,” I said, fudging a little*.  “Not including you.”

“Huh.”

“Why don’t you ever comment?”

“You really want me to?”

“Never mind.  Can I blog about this conversation?”

“Sure.  I probably won’t read it, since I know what happens.”

“That’s okay.  Please don’t comment if you do.”

“No promises.  There a computer free?”

“Number five,” I said, pointing.

I was left with the book and the sudden urge to read over every one of my library-based posts to make sure they won’t bite me in the rump and set the commenting around here to moderate all.

But I read the first few chapters of Killer Instinct instead.

Thanks, Mrs. P.

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*Never mind which way.

Book Review: Fox Five

If you’re a writer—heck, if you can read—and aren’t already following the blog over at Murderati, you should be.  It’s an international collective of amazing people who write amazing stuff.

One of these people is the brilliant Zoë Sharp, creator of strong, smart, and deadly ex-military bodyguard Charlotte “Charlie” Fox .  Combined, the bios of these two women, author and character, could give Modesty Blaise* a run for her money.

The reality is that the close-protection business is all about reputation . . . With the rest of the team blown, the responsibility for maintaining that reputation rested squarely on my shoulders.

No pressure, then.

But to be scrupulously honest—hush, it could happen—while I look forward to Ms. Sharp’s blog posts, the closest I’ve come to reading a Charlie Fox adventure was the time she had Charlie write a guest post.  In my defense,  Killer Instinct, the first book in the series, has proved difficult to find.**

So when Ms. Sharp offered her new e-thology of five Charlie Fox stories to the first fifty people who agreed to review it, I jumped at the chance to see both of them in action.

I was not disappointed.  At all.  Each story offers something different in tone and direction, with Charlie, naturally,  as the constant.

The first story, “A Bridge Too Far,” is a psychological whodunit:  Charlie and her friend Sam are observing the leader of a Dangerous Sports Club dive off a viaduct when an altercation with the landowner interrupts and something goes terribly wrong . . . . or did it?  Charlie doesn’t actually solve the mystery, here, but she gives us the essential pieces and keeps order among the suspects in her own particular way.

A bit more of Charlie’s background comes to light in the next story, “Postcards from Another Country,” in which she has an interesting talk with the wayward daughter of her primary, a rich man who has already had one attempt made on his life.   This story has a flavor of 1940s Hollywood noir, with Charlie as the Bogart character—except Charlie actually doesn’t play the sap, for anybody.

“Served Cold” is the only story in the collection written in third person from the POV of a different character.  Charlie plays a cameo role here, but the rest of the story is marvelous in its own right.  I was so interested in Layla and her plans that I completely forgot to look for Charlie—which may have been Ms. Sharp’s intention.

“She was a waitress, a dancer, a hooker.  A no-account nobody.  Not worth the effort of a beating.  Not worth the cost of a bullet.”

“Off Duty” is the lightest of the five, and great fun.  I learned something about basic bodyguard philosophy in this one, as Charlie finds her therapeutic vacation at a  Catskills health spa disturbed by a total prat.***  Seriously, I have to admire Charlie’s cool restraint—if I’d been her, this story could easily have ended after the first three paragraphs with a very loud bang.

“Some guys hear the word masseuse but by the time it’s gotten down to their brain, it’s turned into hooker.”

The last story, “Truth and Lies”, shows Charlie at her most deadly—at least in this collection—as she enters a restricted country to extract a couple of terrified journalists guarding an explosive, world-changing story.  As Ms. Sharp mentions in the intro, this was written specifically for this collection with no particular specifications, so she had the room to explore truth, lies, and the characters’ vastly different motivations for telling either at any given time.

“You go into another zone in a firefight, one where normal morality if suspended, normal feelings of fear or revulsion are put aside.   Sometimes it was hard to tell when everyday reality recommenced.  Some soldiers never returned.”

Ms. Sharp’s clear, laconic style fits Charlie perfectly—she doesn’t waste words on unnecessary explanations, she simply lets Charlie get on with it and trusts the reader to understand.

And we do.

So, if you’re looking for a kick-ass heroine written by a kick-ass writer, Fox Five is the perfect introduction to the prodigious talents of Charlie Fox and her creator.  And if you’re already a fan, these stories are a great way to fill in the gaps between the novel-length adventures.

I’m looking forward to reading the series from the beginning— Ms. Sharp mentioned that her backlist will be released electronically very soon,  so it should be much easier to get my hands on the first few books.

 She also said she’d sign my Sony eReader at Bouchercon—hope she was kidding about the Sharpie . . .

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*If you don’t know who she is, hie thee to google and thank me later.

**I just discovered that it was re-released by Broken Flush Press in 2010, but I haven’t taken advantage yet. I tried to get it through Interlibrary Loan a few weeks ago, but I’m on a waiting list.  Hmmph.  What’s a library degree for, if you can’t get the books you want when you want them?

*** Apparently, the damage done to Charlie’s motorcycle in this story is mentioned in Third Strike—that’s the kind of in-joke continuity I enjoy.