Sunday, June 3, 2012

Today's the day I try to make my messy office camera ready! A three-person film crew from Open Road Media will arrive this week to spend two whole days here interviewing me about my work and following me around in my native habitat. It's for a video to promote the upcoming e-publication of my Hoagy series by They are terrific people and I am super excited that's it happening. But a teeny tiny part of me is still convinced that somehow I'm being punked.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Some exciting e-book news!

I'm tickled to death to report that I've just inked a contract with The Mysterious Press that means all eight of my Hoagy and Lulu novels (including my Edgar winner, "The Man Who Would Be F. Scott Fitzgerald") will FINALLY be available as E-Books. And under the incredibly prestigious imprint, no less! I'm going to be in some pretty incredible company. Onward into the digital age!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Launching a New Mystery Series!

I'm absolutely thrilled to report that I'm launching a new series with my current editor, the wondrous Toni Plummer of Minotaur Books.  The novel is called RUNAWAY MAN and it's tentatively scheduled for publication in the spring of 2013.  Fear not, Mitch and Des fans.  This will be in addition to my Berger-Mitry series.  Mitch and Des aren't going anywhere.  I'm simply branching out with a brand new hero.

His name is Benji Golden and I'm totally into him.  I hope you will be, too.  Benji lives and works in New York City.  He's 25 but looks younger.  He's exactly one-quarter inch shy of five feet six, weighs a buck thirty-seven and is exceedingly baby faced.  But he's plenty feisty.  He has to be.  He's a licensed private investigator who works out of a not-so elegant office on the corner of West 103rd St. and Broadway that he shares with two ex-strippers, one of whom is his mom.  Long story.  Hell, it's a whole book.  Let me just say this much: Benji's dad was a celebrity hero cop who taught Benji most of what he knows.  The rest is pure talent.  Benji is a specialist who happens to be very, very good at what he does.  In fact, he's the best there is in all of New York City.  You'll just have to take my word for that until you get a chance to read RUNAWAY MAN for yourself.

Like I said, it's slated for publication in the spring of 2013.  The next Berger-Mitry, THE SNOW WHITE CHRISTMAS COOKIE, is still on schedule to come out in the fall of 2012.  I'm working away on it as we speak.  And please don't forget about the THE BLOOD RED INDIAN SUMMER, which will be out in just a few short weeks.

This is all good news.  Feel free to let loose with a loud woo-hoo! I know I am.  Could not be happier.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's Not Easy To Be a Manly Man

Have you ever wondered what happens to a manly mystery writer when he discovers he has a deer tick stuck firmly to his butt and his girlfriend is going to be away in New York City for the next three days? Funny you should ask.

It's now peak deer tick season here in Old Lyme -- which, as you may know, happens to be ground zero for Lyme Disease.  Paradise has its price, sad to say.  If you spend any time outside, gardening or hiking or whatever, you're bound to find one or more of the nasty little buggers has taken hold somewhere on your body and has to be removed with a pair of tweezers.  The odds are in your favor.  Only a small percentage of the ticks carry the Lyme virus.  And the tick has to be on you for at least 24 hours.  But you want that tick off of you.  Now.  Period.

Which brings me to my dilemma of the other night.  I was drying off after my shower when I found one in, well, one of those hard to reach places.   Twenty years ago I would have called it my extreme upper rear thigh.  Now I would have to say it qualifies as my butt.  It's a gray area.  A gray, fleshy area.  Ordinarily, I would have asked Diana to take it out for me.  We've done this rather intimate favor for each other many times.  In fact, in Old Lyme it's what passes for foreplay.  Unfortunately, Diana was in the City and wasn't going to be back until long after those critical first 24 hours had passed.

So it was up to me to remove it myself -- even if I couldn't exactly reach it or see it.  Not a problem.  Men are taught from an early age to be totally self-sufficient.  If you have to rely on anyone else for anything -- anything -- then you're not a man.  This is why guys don't like to ask for directions when we get lost.  I got out the rubbing alcohol and a cotton ball.  Doused the tick.  Hiked my foot onto the edge of the bathroom sink.  Lined the little bugger up in my sights courtesy of a pocket mirror, grabbed hold with the tweezers broke off.  Half of it came away.  The other half stayed in.

This is bad.  This is very bad.  The only thing worse than leaving a tick in, is leaving the remnants of a tick in.  Then the bite can become infected.

Still, I was positive I could deal with it myself.  I just needed a better, closer look, that's all.  I took the tweezers, pocket mirror and a magnifying glass over to the bed and curled up on my back with my legs up in the air.  In yoga we call this snail pose.  And, yes, I did close the curtains next to the bed.  By carefully positioning the mirror and the magnifying glass just so, I was able to see the remaining tick bits quite well.  Now all I had to do was coax them out with the tweezers.  The problem was that this delicate operation required three hands and I only have two.  I did ask Freddie to hold the magnifying glass in his mouth for me but, well, Freddie doesn't do the Timmy's In Trouble thing.  Freddie's a cat.

And I'm a guy.  And it's at times like these that it's not easy to be a guy.  A woman? A woman would have no problem asking one of her woman friends or neighbors to remove the tick for her.  And they would have no problem complying.  But women are different from men.  Women try on each other's shoes.  Women share their food.  Guys don't do those things.  They especially don't ask another guy for help that in any way, shape or form hints at intimacy.

I mean, hell, I can still remember one of the first dirty jokes I ever heard in my life.  I heard this the first time I went away to summer camp.  Two guys are off in the woods on a camping trip and one of them is asleep in his sleeping bag when he gets bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of his pecker.  "Oh, my God!" he cries out.  "I've been bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of my pecker! What do I do?"  "Not to worry," his friend says. "I'll run to the ranger station three miles away and ask him what to do." So the friend runs to the ranger station and bursts in the door, gasping, and says, "Sir, my friend has been bit by a rattlesnake on the tip of his pecker! What do I do?" And the ranger says, "Here's what you do.  You take this here razor blade with you.  You slash an X in the tip of his pecker with the blade, then you get down on your hands and knees and you suck out every bit of that venom yourself.  It's the only chance your friend has." So the friend takes the razor blade, thanks the ranger and rushes back to the camp site.  "What did the ranger say?" the snakebite victim wants to know.  And the friend replies, "He said you're going to die."

Translation: I couldn't ask any of my male friends or neighbors for help. I couldn't phone up George, Bill, Milt, Dave or anyone else and say, "I have a tick in my butt! Will you take it out for me?" Flummoxed, I called Diana in New York and said, "I have a tick in my butt! What do I do!" She was very calm about it, considering that by now it was three o'clock in the morning and I'd woken her from a sound sleep. She considered my dilemma for about thirty seconds and said, "Call Gail in the morning.  She'll take care of it."

Our neighbor Gail.  Of course.  Gail is a registered nurse.  Gail is a licensed massage therapist.  Gail has seen a million butts, including mine.  I contacted Gail first thing in the morning.  She was totally unfazed by my somewhat unusual request. Told me to come right over.  I did.  Ordered me to stretch out on my stomach.  I did.  "Well, you certainly did a number on yourself, didn't you?" she murmured sweetly as she effortlessly removed the remaining tick bits.  "It was kind of hard to reach," I explained.  "You should have just called me," she said. "Why didn't you call me?"

I tried to explain it to her but, well, I couldn't.  Because guys aren't supposed to explain themselves.  That's another guy thing.

I tell you, sometimes it's not easy to be a manly man.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Edgar, Freddie and Me

Truly, I did not think this was possible -- but a friend of mine has asked for another look at that photo of Edgar, Freddie and me that was flashed up during the slide show of previous winners at the Edgar Allen Poe banquet last Thursday night in NYC.  So here it is.  Helpful hint: I'm the one with the sweater and the teeth.  And, yes, the teeth are real.  Still.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Still A Thing of Beauty

I wrote eight books and hundreds of articles on my old 1958 solid steel Olympia portable, which I bought used in 1978 for $150 at Osner's on Amsterdam Avenue.  It has been 20 years since I switched over to my first Mac but I started missing my old Olympia the other day so I got it out of the closet and had a look.  It's still a beautiful machine, isn't it? I think I'll leave it out for a while.  It makes me happy to look at it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Killer Hot Fudge Sauce

I dream about food constantly.

At least two nights a month I dream about an incredibly messy, incredibly amazing chili cheeseburger that I ate ten years ago at the All Star Cafe in Pittsboro, North Carolina. They served it Carolina style, which means it was topped with cole slaw.  And it came with a basket of fresh, hot onion rings -- the better to mop up all of the chili, melted cheese and cole slaw that spilled out.  I also dream a lot about the mouth-watering pancetta and caramelized onion pizza that they make at a place on East 20th Street called Pizza Fresca.  Diana and I like to go there.

Mostly I dream about chocolate.  And not just while I'm asleep.  Chocolate occupies my mind day and night.  It's my greatest passion in life.  I'm really not a complicated person at all.  If my mind isn't occupied with figuring out how to murder someone, then the chances are very good that I'm thinking about chocolate.  If I'm sitting in the dentist's chair I'm wondering why it is they have mint-flavored toothpaste but not chocolate.  Or dental floss.  Wouldn't you floss more often if they made chocolate floss? I would. If I'm sipping my late morning herbal tea I'm thinking how much better it would taste with one of Maida Heatter's chocolate peanut cookies, and how I ought to bake a batch.

But nothing occupies my thoughts quite like my yearning for the hot fudge sauce that I give to friends and loved ones every year for Christmas.  Diana and I have jarred up two batches so far this season and are about to make a third today.  It is absolutely killer.  The best.  Once you've tasted it you'll never go back.  It's great on ice cream, of course.  And we find it to be the height of sin on Diana's warm, fresh-baked bread.  In the spirit of the season I've decided to share the recipe, which comes from the March 1997 issue of Saveur magazine.  The late, great journalist R.W. Apple uncovered it in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at a restaurant called Rostoff.  He thought it was the best he'd ever tasted and I don't disagree.  It's not that hard to make.  All you need is a stainless steel double boiler and a bit of patience.  Chocolate does NOT like to be rushed.

Here's what you'll need:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
7 tablespoons sweet butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of kosher salt

Break up the chocolate into pieces.  Melt the chocolate and all of the other ingredients (except for the vanilla and salt) together in the top of your double boiler over water that's at a LOW simmer.  Like I said, don't rush this.  Chocolate will seize up if it gets too hot.   It'll take a few minutes for everything to melt. Use a wooden spoon to stir it together.  When it becomes nice and smooth keep stirring it with your wooden spoon for an additional five minutes.  Remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla and the pinch of salt.  Then pig out.

It'll keep for a couple of weeks in a jar in the refrigerator, not that it'll ever last that long.  You can re-heat it in a microwave or by placing the jar in a saucepan of simmering water.

Enjoy.  And, hey, happy holidays.