Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jeff Cohen alert

Somebody named Jeff Cohen is extolling the virtues of a very bad movie called THE MAN WITH BOGART'S FACE at Crimespree Cinema. Seriously. THE MAN WITH BOGART'S FACE? Did this guy SEE that movie?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I'm writing the third Haunted Guesthouse mystery right now. It's currently titled OLD HAUNTS, and I need a little guidance.

Who do YOU think did it?

Monday, November 1, 2010

November 1 Update

Just to keep you up to date:

Book #2 in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, AN UNINVITED GHOST, has made it through the editing process on its way to publishing April 5, 2011. Will get you the final cover as soon as I see it. Suffice it to say the cat has remained. No further comment.

Book #3, currently called OLD HAUNTS, is almost halfway through that critical first draft. Alison is up to her neck in problems, of course, and the ghosts aren't ALWAYS doing their best to help. Suffice it to say there are a number of visits and reminders of past flings, spouses and near-spouses, and it gets a little tangled. There's also this murder to solve and a missing person to find. Like Meryl Streep said, It's Complicated.

For you Jeff Cohen fans: My pal's latest Aaron Tucker story, THE GUN ALSO RISES, will be published in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine's January/February double issue, which will be available next week (Nov. 9) if not before. As always, it blends family business with finding out who did what to whom in a lethal way, and of course, Aaron is as funny as ever. This story is something of a prequel to the Aaron novel series, set in 1999 with our favorite freelance reporter trying to find out why a baseball player died moments after his team won the championship, and who framed his six-year-old son for an offense even more heinous than murder--bringing a water pistol to his first-grade class. Take a look!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Check It Out!

I'm the guest blogger at Mystery Fanfare, on the true meaning of Halloween. Leave a comment--let me know what you think!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Arts and/or Crafts

There's an ongoing "discussion" on the DorothyL listserv that asks the question: Is writing an art or a craft? And I think there's only one definitive answer:

I don't care.

Writing is my job. It's what I do for money, for pleasure, for recognition, for entertainment. It is the only thing I know how to do really well, or at least better than most of the people who aren't doing it. And if I take a moment while I'm writing to ponder whether or not what I'm creating is a work of art... I'm dead in the water.

There is craft to all art. Sure, Michelangelo could be inspired to create a statue of David out of a block of marble, but the fact is, if he weren't a magnificent craftsman, it would have come out looking like a block of marble, maybe with arms. By the same token, Bob Vila spent years on "This Old House" working with power tools, hand tools, nails, screws, hammers, saws and blueprints to make some old dump look amazing (and by the way, Bob, if you're reading here and have nothing to do, I have a house in New Jersey that could use your help and yes, it's officially old). He could have all the craft in the world at his disposal, but without the vision to create something beautiful, what he'd have would have been an old house with a coat of beige paint on it.

The fact is, it doesn't matter whether writing is an art or a craft. It has to be both, or it will be neither. But if the writer spends his/her time fretting over the level of art he/she is creating, the book/story will be bad/bad.

Writers write. That's what we do. We start with an idea (creating something from nothing--something pretty much no one else can do) and develop it into an emotional, intellectual, tightly crafted document that the reader gets to decide is either a superior form of entertainment, or dreck.

Is it art? I have neither the time nor the inclination to care.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Winnifred? Seriously?

I've always (well, since the 1980s, which is practically always) been a fan of Robert B. Parker, and was saddened when he died earlier this year. The man was--and this has become the cliche thing to say about him because it is true--a master of the form, bringing readable, living prose to crime fiction without sacrificing character or humor. He will be sincerely missed.

I just read his latest Spenser novel, Painted Ladies, and it is true that the master was not always at the top of his form in his later years. Sometimes the formula seemed a little... formulaic, and sometimes the story just didn't include enough development of the central characters to be interesting. The thing about Parker novels was that the mystery wasn't the point; whodunnit often was secondary to why, and the effect the case had on the detective was at least as important to the reader as the puzzle itself.

That said, Painted Ladies is one of the less successful Spenser novels. Hawk, Spenser's friend who sometimes helps out with extra muscle on dangerous cases, is nowhere to be found, mentioned only once to explain his absence. Susan Silverman, with whom many readers have legitimate issues, is central to the story (although she really doesn't bother me all that much). And the detective himself, who must be in his seventies by now, has not missed a step or lost a fistfight. Certain accommodations for a favorite character must be made.

Also, the mystery itself is fairly easy to solve, which isn't an enormous problem, but does weigh a little more heavily given that Spenser himself seems a little tired of the whole thing. He does what he does because he does it, but aside from that, he'd probably be just as happy spending a weekend cooking for Susan and, if it were the proper season (it's not, this time) watching a baseball game.

But what took me out of the plot on more than one occasion was an unusual factor--the character names. Usually something I wouldn't care about one way or another, in many cases the names here are either outdated or so unusual they draw attention to themselves, and that's the sign of an author trying to be too clever, or not caring enough.

I won't list them here, but suffice it to say some of the names, especially those of female characters, are howlers direct from a 1930s George Cukor movie. It starts with the client named Ashton Prince being blown to bits. Things go downhill from there.

As always, Painted Ladies represents a very readable Spenser novel. And by the time the next (last?) one, Sixkill, arrives next year, you'll probably forget the plot of this one. I've already forgotten the character names. But it took some work.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Numbers Are Against Me

I have come to the conclusion that there are four people left on the planet who have not published a book, and they are probably in the editing phase as we speak.

My Facebook page has over 4,000 friends listed on it (I attribute this to my sunny personality and good clean livin'), and by extremely unofficial count--meaning I didn't count at all and am exaggerating for comic effect--3,996 of them have "Author" listed as their first name or profession. I'm getting inundated with requests to attend book signings and launch parties in states and countries I have never visited, which would cost more to travel to than buying up the entire stock of this person's book and pushing their Amazon numbers through the roof.

(By the way, if I invite you to MY book signing and you'd prefer to buy up all copies of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED and drive my Amazon numbers through the roof instead, don't let me stand in your way.)

Now, I have nothing against other people publishing books, other than unbridled envy at their sales numbers. But it does make you--or at least, me--wonder if anybody is reading books because they want to, or simply because they are friends or relatives of the author.

I know, you're about to email me or leave a comment that says YOU read 17 cozy mysteries a week out of the sheer love of the process, and I believe you. There's just a certain overwhelming feeling of being one among millions, trying to jump up and be heard, that I think others can probably find some empathy in, no? All you other authors out there?

Monday, August 30, 2010

TMB--Too Much Betty

All right, I'll be the first one to say it.

I'm tired of Betty White.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think it's terrific that an 88-year-old actress with a healthy sense of humor can get lots of work. I am tickled to pieces that she got enough young people on Facebook to demand she host Saturday Night Live that she not only did host Saturday Night Live, but won an Emmy Award for it as well. I think it's great that Betty has a two-book contract and shows up wherever Sandra Bullock goes these days.

I'm even happy that Betty is a regular on some show on Nick at Nite that celebrates women over 40. All of that is wonderful, and more power to her.

But hey: If I saw my own mother as much as I see Betty White, I'd start to wonder if perhaps a little break might be indicated. When I went looking online for a calendar today, and found the Betty White 2011 Calendar on the "most popular" page, I realized it was too much.

Now, I'm not lumping our Betty (she seems to be everybody's Betty these days) in with such overexposed "celebrities" as Paris Hilton--good luck beating THIS rap, Paris--or Britney Spears. Betty can actually DO something, which is a serious advantage over many of those who will end up on Dancing With the Stars. She's no Kate Gosselin. Whoever that is.

What I'm saying is there are limits. If I wanted to see Betty White at least once a day, I would have asked her to marry me, and probably would have been turned down. But the point is, I DIDN'T ask, simply because that wasn't my goal. I'd like to see Betty, even at 88, be a little bit more selective in her choice of roles. Like, only one every week, and not seven.

Or, it's possible that I'm jealous. It takes months to write a book.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Because I Know You Care

Just started work on the THIRD book in the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series (as yet, no title has leapt to mind--well, certainly not one I'm going to USE, anyway). Only a couple of pages in, but I think it'll come together relatively quickly, if not easily.

There's no such thing as "easily."

An immodest statement for those of you who have enjoyed NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED: The second book, AN UNINVITED GHOST, comes in April, 2011, and just between us, I think it's BETTER than the first one. Just sayin'.

Meanwhile, I'm told that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is just on the cusp of selling enough to merit a second printing. Readers might not think so, but a second time at the press can be a big deal for an author--it means the book has sold at least the way the publisher expected it to, and can sometimes facilitate an offer for more books in the series. So if you haven't nagged your friends yet and you want to see more books with Alison and her ragtag band of ghosts, guests and, I dunno, gusts, get them to buy a copy! Or buy one for them yourself! That'll force them to read it!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What's So Funny?

I appreciate each and every review I've read of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED. Yes, even the one on Amazon where the person said they hadn't read the book yet, but still gave it three stars. But a consistent trend in the reviews does baffle me a little.

Believe me, for an author it's a joy to be recognized. I love it when people give me feedback, even the one time I got an email telling me my book was "one of the four worst I've ever read," which was irritating in that the other three were not listed. And the reviews for DEED have been very generous, and greatly appreciated.

Among the adjectives used to describe the book have been "humorous," "hilarious," "funny," and did I mention "hilarious"?

That stumps me. To me, there are some sharp comments here and there, but it's not a flat-out comedy. Alison has a point of view, certainly, that reflects our New Jersey National Language (Sarcasm), but "hilarious?" Maybe I'm reading the book wrong.

Please, tell me, show me--what parts of the book made you laugh? If I know what worked, maybe I can do it again!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Singles-to-Digital Conversion Project: The Complete List

Herb Alpert: Tijuana Taxi

Casino Royale

Zorba The Greek

The Association: Windy

Badfinger: Come and Get It

Rock Of All Ages

Blood Sweat & Tears: Spinning Wheel

Bobby Bloom: Montego Bay

Blues Image: Ride Captain Ride

Carpenters: Rainy Days and Mondays

Chicago: Along Comes A Woman

Classics IV: Traces

Nat King Cole: Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Judy Collins: Both Sides Now

Bill Cosby: Little Old Man

Cowsills: Hair

Lou Christie: I’m Gonna Make You Mine

The Critters: Mr. Dieingly Sad

Tim Curry: I Do The Rock

Dawn: Candida

Neil Diamond: Cracklin’ Rosie

Sweet Caroline

Holly Holy

The Drifters: Under The Boardwalk

Easybeats: Friday on My Mind

Edison Lighthouse: Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes

Shirley Ellis: The Name Game

Five Americans: Western Union

Flying Machine: Smile A Little Smile For Me

Aretha Franklin: Freeway Of Love

John Fred and the Playboys: Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)

Freddie and the Dreamers: I’m Telling You Now

Gerry and the Pacemakers: It’s Gonna Be All Right

Lesley Gore: Summer And Sandy

California Nights

Grass Roots: Sooner or Later

River Runs Wide

Grateful Dead: Touch of Grey

Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds: Don’t Pull Your Love

George Harrison: My Sweet Lord

Isn’t It A Pity


Howard Jones: No One Is To Blame

Trini Lopez: Lemon Tree

The Lovin’ Cohens: Noshville Katz

The Marmalade: Reflections Of My Life

Paul McCartney: Give Ireland Back to the Irish

Live and Let Die

Mike and the Mechanics: All I Need Is A Miracle

Monkees: A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You

The Girl I Knew Somewhere

Van Morrison: Moondance

Napoleon XIV: They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha!

The Neighborhood: Big Yellow Taxi

New Colony Six: Things I’d Like To Say

Harry Nilsson: Waiting

With A Bullet


The Police: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Billy Preston: Outa-Space

Redeye: Games

REO Speedwagon: I Do’ Wanna Know

Tommy Roe: Dizzy

Bobby Rydell: A World Without Love


Soupy Sales: The Mouse

Bob Seger: Shakedown

Spanky and Our Gang: Sunday Will Never Be The Same

Lazy Day

Rod Stewart: Lady Jane

Sting: Fortress Around Your Heart

If You Love Someone Set Them Free

Barbra Streisand: Time and Love

Three Dog Night: One

Union Gap (Gary Puckett): Lady Willpower

Young Girl

USA For Africa: We Are The World

Mason Williams: Classical Gas

Monday, August 2, 2010

The LP-to-Digital Conversion Project (Final Album List)

Allman Brothers: Brothers & Sisters

Win, Lose or Draw

Beach Boys: Best of the Beach Boys, 1 and 2

Good Vibrations

Live In London

Beatles: Introducing the Beatles

Meet the Beatles

The Beatles’ Second Album

A Hard Day’s Night

Something New

The Early Beatles

Beatles ‘65


Beatles VI

Rubber Soul

Yesterday and Today


Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Magical Mystery Tour

Yellow Submarine

Hey Jude

Let It Be

Stephen Bishop: Careless


Red Cab To Manhattan

Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner: The 2000 Year-Old Man

2000 and Six Month Man

Cannes Film Festival


Mel Brooks: Soundtracks

Jackson Browne: The Pretender

Running on Empty

Lives in the Balance

Lindsey Buckingham: Go Insane

George Carlin: FM/AM

Class Clown

On the Road

Harry Chapin: Anthology

Tom Chapin: Life Is Like That

In The City of Mercy

Let Me Back Into Your Life

Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority

Chicago 2, 6, 7

Jimmy Cliff: Struggling Man

Leonard Cohen

Phil Collins: No Jacket Required

Bill Cosby: Is A Very Funny Fellow—Right!



To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With

200 MPH

It’s True! It’s True!


Live at Madison Square Garden

8:15, 12:15

For Adults Only

Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby

My Father Confused Me

When I Was A Kid

Fat Albert

Bill’s Best Friend


Those Of You With Or Without Children You’ll Understand

Creedence Clearwater Revival: More Creedence Gold

Jim Croce: Don’t Mess Around With Jim

Life and Times

I Got A Name

Crosby Stills and Nash


Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: Déjà vu

4 Way Street

Christopher Cross

Another Page

Billy Crystal: Mahvelous!

Neil Diamond: Love at the Greek

Doobie Brothers: Minute By Minute

Eagles: Their Greatest Hits

Eddie and the Cruisers

Jonathan Edwards

Honky Tonk Stardust Cowboy

Electric Light Orchestra: ELO II

New World Record


Balance Of Power

Cass Elliot: Mama’s Big Ones

Duke Ellington: Jazz Greats

Everything But The Girl: Baby, The Stars Shine Bright

Love Not Money


Fifth Dimension: Greatest Hits


Fifth Dimension Live!

Fleetwood Mac



Tango in the Night

John Fogerty: Centerfield

Foreigner: Records

Four Seasons: Greatest Hits

Michael Franks: Art of Tea

Skin Dive

Stan Freberg: The United States of America Part 1

Freberg Underground

Glenn Frey: No Fun Aloud

David Frye: I Am the President

Richard Nixon, Superstar

Art Garfunkel: Angel Clare


Fate For Breakfast

Scissors Cut


Invisible Touch

Andrew Gold: All This And Heaven Too

Steve Goodman

Somebody Else’s Troubles

In Private

Hot Spot

Affordable Art

Grateful Dead: Steal Your Face

Arlo Guthrie: Washington County

George Harrison

Don Henley: Building the Perfect Beast

Herman’s Hermits: Greatest Hits

Billie Holiday: Greatest Hits


Janis Ian: Between the Lines

Miracle Row

Janis Ian

Restless Eyes

Joe Jackson: Jumpin’ Jive

Night and Day

Body and Soul

Mike’s Murder Soundtrack

Big World

Billy Joel: Piano Man

Streetlife Serenade

52nd Street

An Innocent Man

The Bridge

Elton John: Honky Chateau

A Single Man

Greatest Hits 1 & 2

Jump Up

Too Low For Zero

Breaking Hearts

Carole King: Writer


Rhymes and Reasons


Wrap Around Joy


Simple Things

Welcome Home

Touch the Sky


One To One

Speeding Time

City Streets

Robert Klein: Child of the 50s

Mind Over Matter

New Teeth

Bonnie Koloc: Morning

On The Road

Leo Kottke: Greenhouse

Tom Lehrer: Songs By Tom Lehrer

An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer

That Was The Year that Was

John Lennon/Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy

Julian Lennon: Valotte

The Secret Value of Daydreaming

Huey Lewis and the News: Sports


Little River Band: Greatest Hits

Backstage Pass

The Net

Playing To Win

Loggins & Messina: Full Sail

On Stage

The Best of Friends

Kenny Loggins: Nightwatch

Lovin’ Spoonful: Very Best of the Lovin’ Spoonful

Nick Lowe: Nick Lowe and His Cowboy Outfit

The Mamas and the Papas: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears

A Gathering of Flowers

Melissa Manchester: Bright Eyes


Groucho Marx: An Evening With Groucho

Amanda McBroom: Dreaming

Paul McCartney: McCartney


Wild Life

Red Rose Speedway

Venus and Mars

At The Speed of Sound

Wings Over America

Tug Of War

Pipes of Peace

Don McLean: American Pie

Christine McVie

Bette Midler

Songs For the New Depression

The Rose

Thighs and Whispers

Divine Madness

Mud Will Be Flung Tonight

Joni Mitchell: Clouds

Ladies of the Canyon


The Monkees

More Of The Monkees


Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones, Ltd.

The Birds, The Bees, and the Monkees

Maria Muldaur: Waitress in a Donut Shop

Michael Nesmith: Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma

Randy Newman: Trouble In Paradise

Juice Newton: Quiet Lies

Olivia Newton-John: Greatest Hits

Nilsson: Pandemonium Shadow Show

Nilsson Sings Newman

The Point


Son Of Schmilsson


That’s the Way It Is


Early Tymes

North By Northwest Soundtrack

Laura Nyro: Eli and the 13th Confession

First Songs

Season of Lights: In Concert

Charlie Parker: The Best of Bird

The Alan Parsons Project: The Turn of a Friendly Card

I Robot

Best of the Alan Parsons Project



Peanuts: Charlie Brown and Lucy

Peter, Paul and Mary: Album 1700

(Ten) Years Together

Pippin Original Cast Recording

Pointer Sisters: Steppin’

That’s A Plenty

Break Out

Jim Post: Rattlesnake

Richard Pryor: Wanted

The Punsters: Boardwalk Santa

Flora Purim: 500 Miles High

Gerry Rafferty: Can I Have My Money Back?

Gerry Rafferty

City To City

Night Owl

Snakes and Ladders


Bonnie Raitt

Give It Up

Sweet Forgiveness

The Glow

The Rascals: Time Peace (Greatest Hits)

Lou Reed: Transformer

The Roches

Another World

Linda Ronstadt: Simple Dreams

What’s New

Lush Life

Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris: Trio

Carole Bayer Sager

Buffy Sainte-Marie: It’s My Way

Many A Mile

Little Wheel Spin and Spin

She Used To Want to Be a Ballerina

Judy Small: One Voice In A Crowd

Saturday Night Live

Boz Scaggs: Boz Scaggs and Band

My Time

Slow Dancer

Down Two Then Left

Seals and Crofts: Down Home

Year Of Sunday

Summer Breeze

Diamond Girl

I’ll Play For You

Get Closer

Sudan Village

Takin’ It Easy

The Longest Road

Bob Seger: Night Moves

Stranger In Town

Jean Shepherd: The Declassified Jean Shepherd

Allan Sherman: My Son the Folk Singer

My Son the Celebrity

My Son the Nut

Allan In Wonderland

Peter and the Komissar

Simon and Garfunkel: The Graduate Soundtrack

The Concert in Central Park

Carly Simon: Another Passenger


Come Upstairs


Hello Big Man

Spoiled Girl

Coming Around Again

Lucy Simon

Stolen Time

Paul Simon: The Paul Simon Songbook

Live Rhymin’

Still Crazy After All These Years

Hearts and Bones

Phoebe Snow: Never Letting Go

Against the Grain


Rock Away

Bruce Springsteen: Greetings From Asbury Park, New Jersey

The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle

Born in the U.S.A.

Ringo Starr: Ringo

Goodnight Vienna

Ringo’s Rotogravure

Ringo the 4th

Stop and Smell The Roses

Inside Star Trek

Star Wars Soundtrack

Stealers Wheel

Ferguslie Park

Stuck In the Middle With You: The Best of Stealers Wheel

David Steinberg: Disguised as a Normal Person

Booga Booga!

Cat Stevens: Greatest Hits

Back to Earth

Rod Stewart: Camouflage

James Taylor: One Man Dog


In The Pocket

Greatest Hits



Dad Loves His Work

Kate Taylor

Livingston Taylor: 3-Way Mirror


Man’s Best Friend

Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee

Three Dog Night: Harmony


Seven Separate Fools

Around The World With Three Dog Night

Toby Beau

Jennifer Warnes

Sonny Boy Williamson

Robin Williams: Live at the Met

Flip Wilson: The Devil Made Me Buy This Dress

Steve Winwood: Back In The High Life

Stevie Wonder: Innervisions

Fulfillingness’ First Finale

Songs In The Key of Life

Hotter Than July


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Corn Plastered

The reviews and comments about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED have been very kind and quite positive. But, being the kind of person I am, I tend to fixate on the one negative comment in an otherwise glowing treatise on my work. If someone likes 324 pages of my book, and has a slight problem with one, I'll go right to the one offending page and rend my garment over what I might have been thinking when I was foolish enough to commit it to hard drive space.

So naturally, when more than one person takes me to task over a detail, I take notice.

Now as you know, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is the story of Alison Kerby, who buys herself a very large, reasonably old Victorian on the Jersey Shore (no reality show intended) and renovates it to become a guesthouse. Along the way, she discovers the place is haunted by two pretty recently deceased ghosts, and after some argument, must investigate their deaths.

All well and good. So far, not one reviewer has commented that the book is poorly written, that the story doesn't hold one's attention, or that the characters are unlikable. They accept the idea of ghosts communicating directly with the living, they don't mind that Alison's nine-year-old daughter is brought into the action, and they have no problem believing that half the town council in a New Jersey town might have committed murder over a real estate opportunity. They don't even mind my invoking the name of George Washington himself in the proceedings just to up the name-dropping quotient.

Nope. What they're after me about is the plaster.

See, in the first chapter, one of the ghosts creates a very large hole in one of the walls in Alison's new (well, old, really) house. And although Alison is very adept at home improvement, and has a professional contractor as a mentor, she is daunted by the prospect of having to repair said hole, given that plastering is, according to Alison and her contractor friend, "a lost art" that has been replaced with Sheetrock and time savers, and even though they try to repair the gaping break in the wall, neither of them is ever very optimistic about the outcome.

Well, I'm hearing it now from those who insist that plastering as an art is very much alive and well, that the contractor especially should know how to do it, and that this story point has pulled this reader utterly and completely out of the story.

Now, let's recap: Ghosts. Levitation. Murder as a real estate ploy. Nine-year-olds helping to investigate murders. GHOSTS.

No, it's the plaster that's killing the reality here.

Okay, I admit it--I specifically didn't do as much research here as I could have, because I didn't WANT Alison or Tony (the contractor) to know how to fix the wall. I wanted it to be a running gag throughout the book, and for it to pay off at the end. And as the owner of a 100-year-old New Jersey house with plaster walls, I can tell you that it sure as heck is daunting to ME when one of them is cracked or broken.

But it's fiction. That's the idea. I can't tell you what to believe and what not to believe. I can't predict ahead of time what's going to be that sore thumb that sticks out for each individual reader. And I know that some details are going to bother people to the point that it spoils the experience of reading the book for them. I'm sorry about that. I wish it were different.

Still, if you're buying the ghosts...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Stranger In A Strange Land

What do you suppose they're trying to tell us New Jerseyans with this sign?

What country is it I'M living in?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Be honest, now...

A preliminary (okay, VERY preliminary) look at the cover of AN UNINVITED GHOST, with no guarantees it won't be changed. Opinions?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thank you, thank you, thank you--now get to work!

Yes, I KNOW that NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED isn't available for the Kindle yet. I share your frustration. All I can tell you (because it's all I know) is that I'm told it will be soon. You may define "soon" in any way you prefer.

Meanwhile, back here at the ranch (we don't really have that many ranches in New Jersey), all the initial reports are that DEED is reaching people, and they seem to like it. This is a new experience for me, and it's very, very gratifying. Thanks to all who have shared their comments about the book, or have emailed with their opinions. I'm grateful to each and every one of you.

This, of course, does not for a second mean that I'm letting up on the shameless promotion or the asking you to tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED. You're on the hook with me, here (not really, but that's one of those motivational tactics you're always hearing about). So get out there and scream it from the rooftops--but stay safe, and shout from the INSIDE of the house.

I realize this blog so far has been very book-centric so far, and that's not my intention for the future, so if there's anything you'd like to hear about, don't be shy--leave comments! I do check, you know!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Deadly Ink

I'll be at the Deadly Ink conference in Parsippany, NJ this weekend, hoping to meet some readers and see some friends. and I'll be on four panels: Garden State Mysteries (novels set in New Jersey) at 11 a.m. Saturday; Our Favorite Characters--Sleuths We Love On Page and Screen, at 2:30 Saturday afternoon; Writing as the Opposite Sex, on Sunday at 9:30 a.m., and Clues and Red Herrings Sunday at 12:30 p.m. With such authors as Jeff Markowitz, Ilene Schneider, Peggy Ehrhart, Robin Hathaway, Rick Helms, Sheila York, Steve Rigolosi, M.E. Kemp, E.J. Rand, Albert Tucher and Hallie Ephron. Come on up and say hello!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm at Poe's Deadly Daughters!

Take a look at the wonderful blog Poe's Deadly Daughters today, and you'll find a little rant from yours truly. It's not meant to annoy people, and I hope it doesn't, but it does aim at cleaning up some of the misconceptions people have about writing, and writing mystery novels specifically. Let me know what you think!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Check out the Cozy Chicks today!

The accomplished author J.B. Stanley interviews me today at Cozy Chicks, the blog for cozy readers! Take a look!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Thank you!

We had a great time at the launch party last night. Good friends, good wine (I'm told), good books (it was in a book store)=good times. To all who came, thank you. To all who didn't but sent good wishes, thank you as well.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You're Invited!

The launch party for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is tomorrow, Friday June 4, at NIGHTHAWK BOOKS in Highland Park, NJ! It starts at 7, and we'd love for YOU to be there! Please, feel free to drop in for the fun--snacks, coffee and books will be available for purchase (only the books can be autographed, however--snacks are too sticky and coffee is, well, liquid). And there will be a reading and discussion of the book that's currently on Amazon's Top 100 Mystery list! Drop by! For more details: or email ejcopperman AT gmail DOT com!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We Have A Winner!

Congratulations to BECKY LeJEUNE, who won the autographed copy (but not a trip to NJ, because we never really offered that) of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED! Becky correctly identified the inspirations for the following character names in the book:

Alison KERBY (Kerby is the last name of the couple who die in a car crash and come back to haunt the title character in TOPPER, both the 1937 film with Cary Grant and Constance Bennett, and the 1952 TV series with Leo G. Carroll)

MAXIE MALONE (Maxie was a 1920s flapper and aspiring actress whose spirit took over the body of Glenn Close in the 1985 film MAXIE)

PHYLLIS COATES (Ms. Coates was the first actress to play Lois Lane opposite George Reeves as Superman, first in the pilot "Superman And The Mole Men." She was replaced by Noel Neill in the TV series)

Congratulations, Becky! The autographed book is on its way!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Radio Interview Wednesday, 9:45 CDT on KORN AM

I'll be interviewed by Jena O'Connor on KORN 1490 AM Let's Talk Wednesday (June 2) at 9:45 a.m. CDT in Sioux Falls, SD and the surrounding area. You can also find it on their website. Please, tune in!

No Such Thing As A Free Launch?

It's launch day here at Sliced Bread! Yes, after months (in some cases, years) of anticipation, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is now on bookstore shelves, including ones near you, with any luck at all. And we (and by we, I mean I) are celebrating by offering a free autographed copy of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED to one reader who answers the following question:

There are many characters in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED whose names are veiled--or in some cases, blatant--references to movies, TV and books. Explain the relevance of the following:

Alison Kerby (emphasis on "Kerby")
Maxie Malone
Phyllis Coates

Then send your answers in an email to ejcopperman AT gmail DOT com (to avoid phishing problems; remove the spaces in your email). Send us (that is, me) your

Email address
Snail Mail Address

and you might win!

If so, we'd like to fly you to the launch party for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED at Nighthawk Books in Highland Park, NJ this Friday at 7 p.m.! We'd like to put you up in a fancy hotel, pay all your expenses, and give you a side trip into Manhattan to see a Broadway show, dine at the 21 Club and take the Staten Island Ferry.

That's what we'd LIKE to do. What we'll ACTUALLY do is send you a free autographed book.

So get those entries in, ladies and gentlemen! This is a ONE DAY ONLY contest ending at midnight tonight EDT. The winner will be drawn from all correct answers, at random. Get going!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Who Are You Wearing?

On red carpets at movie premieres, awards ceremonies, and Correspondents' Dinners, the fashion reporters and photographers will shout out when one of the slinky celebrities walks by in a shrink-wrap dress, and they always ask the same thing:

"Who are you wearing?"

Well, I'm not likely ever to be in such a situation, and even if I am that lucky, nobody will care who I'm wearing, but it's a pity, because I have a terrific answer all set for them.

I'm wearing me.

No, I don't design clothing. But I've decided that whenever a novel of mine is published (as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED will be in only six days and counting!), I'm going to make sure to have an article of clothing made with the cover of the book blatantly emblazoned upon it.

Cheap advertising? Sure. But why should I advertise someone else's product on a t-shirt with an expensively designed logo on it, when I can show the world (or that tiny part of it that might see me walking around) my own product, for my own benefit, and have them ask me about what it all means?

Okay, so it's not going to generate thousands of sales. Might be better if I could get Scarlett Johanssen to wear the shirt, but the odds of that are not great. And besides, at the end of the day, I'll have a nice keepsake to remind me of each book in its own right.

What's not to like?

Want a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED t-shirt? Well, I don't have any spares, but you can buy one here. Look at it this way: It'll have a much larger impact on a small business than walking around in something that says "I'm With Stupid" on it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Barry Eisler, J.M. Snyder and Destiny Booze

I sense a conspiracy: Whenever I add a friend on Facebook (and there are over 2000 of you now--thank you!), I get the requisite email notice, suggesting people I might want to contact who are on my new friends' lists as well. And, since I rarely-if-ever pass up a chance to tell someone new about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, I'm tickled to do so.

Here's the thing, though: They're always the same three people. Barry Eisler, J.M. Snyder, and Destiny Booze.

Destiny Booze?

Now, I'd be perfectly happy to add all three of these authors--and yes, they're all authors--to my friends list. Except maybe Ms. Booze, whose name creeps me out just a little. But when I try to do so, I'm rewarded with a prompt that informs me this person has exceeded his/her limit of friends (boo hoo), so I can't add them to my list.

So Facebook invites me to contact and add people, and then tells me I can't add them. That seems just a hair pointless, to me.

Yes, I understand that this is a blatant plea for me to "Like" the author in question. But someone who likes to brag about having too many friends (with a limit of 5000) is not someone I'm going to "Like" sight unseen. So I'm not rushing in.

So Eisler, Snyder, and especially you, Booze: You're not my friends yet. But I do have a question.

How the heck did you get 5000 friends?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Killer Characters

Hey, check out the new Facebook page for Killer Characters! I'm very excited to be a part of this new blog--our characters will post for us, and I'll be posting the second of every month. There are some terrific cozy authors involved--a full list is on the Facebook page--and it's going to be a LOT of fun! Take a look!

Who Dat?

There's another author running around (on the Internet) saying he's me. He's not. I know that because this morning when I woke up, there I was.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

E.J. at Meanderings and Muses

I'm featured today (and the rest of this week, I think) at Meanderings and Muses, thanks to the lovely Kaye Barley. And in this post, the truth is revealed: My Secret Identity!

Monday, May 17, 2010

You From Joisey?

Many years ago, during what we here in New Jersey call "the Joe Piscopo Era," there was a sketch on Saturday Night Live (now called "SNL" because we don't have the time to say whole words anymore) in which Piscopo, dressed as what New Yorkers think people from my home state dress like, would meet someone else (often Debbie Harry) from here and scream at each other, "You from Joisey? I'm from Joisey!" (Yes, I know Piscopo is a native Jerseyan, but his costume designer wasn't. And we've been trying to live that guy down for decades now.)

That was the whole sketch. No, I don't get it, either.

I've lived in New Jersey my whole life, which is more than a short time. I've been to every corner of the place, met lots of natives, defended it when it needed defending and decried stupid politicians (like some New York city mayors and our own current governor) who seem to look down on us. I've heard all sorts of opinions, lived through countless "what exit" jokes, been expected to chuckle when it's suggested that most of our residents are in the mob and the rest live on a toxic waste site.

But I've never, EVER, heard anyone from here say "Joisey."

Not once. Zero times. Never. And believe me, I would have noticed. I keep an ear out for such things. Nobody from New Jersey actually talks like that when we're not consciously trying to be ironic. Granted, some of you from more straightforward states might not understand NJ Irony, but you can trust me when I tell you: We don't EVER say "Joisey" seriously.

In fact, the only people I've ever heard say such a silly word are Manhattanites who think they're being clever and condescending, and Brooklynites, who actually talk like that.

Even the cast of "Jersey Shore," while completely trashing any chance we had to rehabilitate a false image of the state, don't say "Joisey." And I'd like to point out, only two of THEM are even from the Garden State (See? Even our state nickname is ironic!).

When I meet someone from, say, Arkansas, I try very hard to say the name of the state the way they'd say it. If I'm talking to a persona from Texas, it's possible we'll allude to some political differences (or not), but at least I'm still perfectly capable of saying "Texas" properly. I like to think that if I ran into an Oregonian, I'd try to pronounce the name of the state the way they say it should be pronounced, which sounds to me like "Origun," because I figure they know better than I do. If corrected, I will accede to the native on such a point.

So do me a favor and--just when you meet me--don't say "Joisey."

There's no such place.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Get a signed NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED bookmark!

If you'd like a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED bookmark signed by E.J. Copperman, just send your email and snail mail addresses to: ejcopperman [at] gmail [dot] com, and one will be on its way! While supplies last (meaning, until I run out of stamps)!


Remember: To you it's $7.99 (or less). To me, it's a career.

Back on Twitter!

The misunderstand has been cleared up, and I'm back on Twitter! If you're not following yet, please do take a look:

The first copies of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED have arrived at my house, and I've gotta tell ya--they look terrific! Kudos to all those at Berkley responsible for the cover and design!

Monday, May 10, 2010

1400 Authors?

Of the more than 1400 lovely people who have agreed to be my friend on Facebook, I am now convinced that seven are not authors. Which is fine with me--I love authors! But it is interesting. Now: how to reach the rest of the population... ?

Monday, May 3, 2010

First Chapter Available!

If you want to read the first chapter of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED (and you know you do), come on over to my website. Be the first on your block to get a taste of the new ghostly mystery series! And then drop me a line at ejcopperman [at] gmail [dot] com and let me know what you think!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Congratulations to FIONA MARSDEN and ROB KVIDT, winners of the ARC contest for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED! I sincerely wish I could send one to everybody who entered, but the sad truth is, I only had these two left.

By the way, the cover's designer insists there are 35 birds on the front cover. Some of them are a little less obvious than others. But since nobody got exactly the right number, I took the two who came closest.

Thanks to EVERYONE who entered for your interest. I hope when the book is available June 1, you'll still want to read NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last Chance!

The ARC contest ends Saturday May 1! Get in your estimate--count the birds on the cover of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED (see below to get a larger view, or go to for a better look). Send me an email at: ejcopperman AT gmail DOT com with your email address and snail mail address (and the bird count). Correct answers will be selected randomly to win one of TWO Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED, the first Haunted Guesthouse Mystery!

Winners will be announced Monday, May 3 here and at the web site. Good luck!

Hello, Malice Domestic!

No, I won't be in Arlington for Malice Domestic this weekend--just couldn't drag myself away from the current work--but I am sending my emissary, Berkley Prime Crime author Jeff Cohen, to say hello and report back to me. So everyone who sees Jeff, make sure you tell him to say hi to E.J. for you. And pick up a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED bookmark or sunscreen while you're there!

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Site Is Up!

After much ado, my web site is up and running; take a look! Much fun stuff there, but if you have suggestions for more you'd like to see, drop us an email and let us know! Also possible to get a BIG version of the NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED cover, and that means it's easier to count the crows and put in an entry for the ARC contest, ending Saturday night!

Also, a quick note: My Twitter account is "under review" for reasons I don't entirely understand, but hopefully will be back online shortly. I'll keep you informed. But check out the web site!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010


Very pleased with the response to our ARC contest--there's still time left to enter! Just go to (or look below right here) for the cover art of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED. Count the birds on the front cover. And send that information (that is, the number of birds) along with your email address and snail mail address (so we can send the ARC of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED) to: ejcoppermanATgmailDOTcom. I am currently consulting with the graphic artist who did the cover painting--to determine what's a bird and what's a little dot of color--and will take those entries that have the correct number, and select two in a random fashion as yet to be determined (out of a hat is leading the competition at the moment). Two ARCs will be sent as prizes after the drawing May 1.

Enter now! I'd say enter often, but entering more than once really won't help you. I'll just put your name in the hat once.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

ARC Contest!!!

The word's starting to get out about NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED! I've received Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) from Berkley, and I'm saving two for interested readers. Here's how we'll proceed, in order to be fair:

Take a look at the book's cover, at Then count the number of birds sitting on and flying around Alison's Haunted Guesthouse. Send me your final count, along with a snail mail address (in case you win) and an email address (so I can tell you you won) to: ejcopperman[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

A random drawing of correct responses will earmark two ARCs for readers. Sorry I can't do more, but this is all I have to play with. So get your entries in by Saturday, May 1, and you can be one of the first to read NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED!

Friday, February 5, 2010

First, Second, Third?

The second book in the Haunted Guesthouse series is going along nicely, and is almost halfway done--it's strange that I'll have handed it in before NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED is released. I won't know what the reaction to the first book will be yet, and no doubt I'll be thinking about the third one by the time DEED has made its impact, or not. I'm hoping people will find the mix of mystery, ghosts and laughs enjoyable.

Meanwhile, the proposed title for the second book is AN UNINVITED GHOST. What do you think?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Nice to meet you!


This is the blogosphere home of E.J. Copperman, author of the Haunted Guesthouse Mystery series, starting in June 2010 with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED from Berkley Prime Crime!

The series is about Alison Kerby, a newly divorced single mother who buys a great big Victorian on the Jersey shore (the beach, not the reality show) and renovates it to turn it into a guesthouse. It's NOT a B&B, Alison says, because she doesn't serve breakfast. It's just a B.

The only problem? Two ghosts are active in the house, and they won't leave Alison alone until she finds out who murdered them.