A Poor Instrument of Musical Beggary

by Mary Reed Life in a country house, that perennially favourite setting for mysteries, occasionally provides surprises and not always those nasty shocks associated with the discovery of a body in the library. I am thinking about John Ruskin, who as a guest at a country house discovered its drawing room boasted a drawing by [...] Read More →


By: Jeanne Matthews By now everyone will have seen or heard about the open letter in the August 10th Sunday edition of the New York Times signed by nine hundred and nine authors urging their readers to email Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and ask him to stop holding books hostage to his company’s negotiations [...] Read More →


To curse or not to curse? That is the question every fiction writer must decide when he or she sits down to the blank page. Should you allow your characters to lets loose with bad words, or bleep them out with blankety-blanks and sideways references. It’s a fraught choice – slings and arrows await no [...] Read More →

Summer Heat

If you carefully read Lives of the Popes, by Richard McBrien, you learn an interesting fact: the month which has seen the most popes leave this earth is none other than August. The reason is simple. Most popes lived before air conditioning, and August in Rome (or Avignon) can be pretty unbearable, especially if you [...] Read More →

On the Road Again

My first book signing for The Good Know Nothing is supposed to happen tomorrow. “Supposed to” only because I’ve given up feeling assured of anything. In honor of this book’s first signing, I thought about posting a section of No Cats, No Chocolate, which Alan Russell and I wrote to translate our book tour misadventures [...] Read More →

Finger Food

My brains are in my fingers. I’ve thought a lot about Tammy’s recent post and the excuses we use not to write. Not only do I have a predicable line-up of ploys, but one is deadly and I’m have to be ever vigilant to keep from succumbing. My biggest downfall is a compulsion to solve problems or look [...] Read More →

What’s an ORC?

Awhile ago, my friend Jeannie Dunlap, an online asset-protection professional, shared a guest post here about gift card fraud. Today, she kindly agreed to an interview so I could pick her brain about online retail fraud. What we don’t want in our personal lives, we definitely want in our fictional worlds. Gotta love double-duty research. [...] Read More →

Looking for Magic

Why is it that, despite some 156 appointments to the contrary*, I continue to hold out hope my next hair appointment will be transforming? Anyone out there with me on that? *Rough calculation based on years in which I cared about my hair. The same hope for transformation must be what compels some people to [...] Read More →