Monday, February 25, 2008

No Verdict on the Kindle Yet

The jury's still out at my house on the Kindle. So far, I've read only one book on it: Blood Memory, by Greg Iles. This was my book club's choice for last month (which, by the way, was a very different type of book than those we usually choose), and one thing I didn't like was that I couldn't just flip through the pages at our meeting to find a passage being discussed. I recognize there is probably a way to search for terms, but that's part of my issue: I hate the learning curve that accompanies new technology. I don't want to spend the time figuring out all the intricacies. Picking up a real book is just so much easier! (This is why I never upgrade my cell phone, too.)
Having said that, I loved the way I'm able to adjust the size of the font. My eyesight just isn't what it used to be. (What am I saying? I've never had good eyesight . . . the only difference now is that I'm nearsighted and farsighted!) I also love that I can have the book instantly with just a click on the Amazon site.
I asked my fifteen-year-old daughter, who's also been using it, how she likes it so far. She loves it. Like me, she likes the ability to change the font size, she likes the size of the whole unit (it's small and light, she says), she likes how it stays charged for so long, she likes how, when you turn it on, it automatically goes back to the last page you were reading . . .
Next up, I'll be reading our book club's March pick, The Birth House, by Ami McKay. Maybe I'll take the time to learn some more features before I begin the book. . .
What do you think? Have you tried the Kindle?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cool Photo

My friend Karen took this picture in her driveway in Acton, Massachusetts. The "hearts" design was caused (unintentionally, believe it or not) by her car tires. I just loved it! Art in the unlikeliest places . . .

(I've also included a little pic of me and Karen goofing off on a frozen lake in New Hampshire, from when I visited her back in January. Fun "girlfriend" time!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Was I Really in England This Time Last Week?

I just returned Sunday night from England, and it's only Thursday now, but my time spent across the "pond" seems like ages ago. A few people have asked, "Did you go for a book tour?" The answer is no. A few others have asked, "Did you go for your book?" In that case, the answer is yes. There's a difference. Really.

When I planned the trip, I certainly hoped I would have the opportunity to do some "promotional" activities -- and made it clear to the publicist at my publisher that I was at her disposal -- but really, I planned to go regardless. It was a good excuse to visit England and I just wanted to see my book on a store shelf! (Like this picture above)

Until just a week or two before I left Orlando, I thought that would be the extent of it. Shortly before our departure, though, I started getting emails from the publicist about wanting to schedule various events. So yes, it turned into a mini-book tour, I suppose, though our sightseeing heavily outweighed promotional events!
It was all a bit surreal. I did two newspaper interviews, three BBC radio interviews, and signed stock in a few stores in London. The neatest part, by far, was just seeing the book on the shelves. That was a lifelong dream, and regardless of anything else, I'll carry that with me for a long time.The radio interviews were scary. I was nervous before each one (can you tell from the picture?), although once I started talking, I was okay. Ironically, the day or two before the interviews, there had been a big story in the news about the sentencing of some youths who had beat a man to death. Apparently, the sentence was somewhat light given the crime, and the man's wife was calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty in England. Well, one of the "issues" in my novel is the death penalty (my main character opposes it, but fudges his position to get elected as DA), and thank God my publicist gave me a heads up about this current event before the interviews! Each radio interviewer wanted to talk about it. Until then, most interviews I'd done focused on other aspects of the novel, or on why I left law to write, or whether my characters were fictional (I always get a kick out of that question!).
England itself was fantastic. We had three days of sunny weather, temperatures in the 50's (everyone kept telling us how unusual that was, and I told them we brought it from Florida!). The fourth day turned overcast and cold, but the last few days were sunny again (though still cold). We spent our first two days in Berkhamsted with a friend, taking a day trip from there to get a personal tour of Oxford from an English author, Nick Page, who is a friend of our Berkhamsted friend. We had dinner at a cute little country pub called the Alford Arms, just outside of Berkhamsted.

On Wednesday we went into London, and that's the day I did most of the book events (though every day we stopped in book stores!). We had dinner that night with a bunch of folks from Macmillan. They were a great group of people and I immediately felt as ease with them. I think we sat in the restaurant talking and drinking wine for almost 4-1/2 hours. (I love doing this, but my poor hubby can get very fidgety with lingering after the meal is done . . . He was incredibly patient and good-natured about it, though.)

We stayed in a little boutique hotel called Hazlitt's. I would highly recommend it, especially for writers. It's just off of Soho Square. They have a tradition of published authors leaving signed copies of their books, and they have a glass case in a small drawing room where they display them all. I left them one of mine to be added to the group! It was pretty cool for this newbie.

Other than this, we did all the typical tourist things -- Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Portobello Road Market, St. Paul's Cathedral, London Eye, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, saw a show in the West End, etc. . . . I wanted to go to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre but we ran out of time, and I decided it would be better in warm weather anyway, when we could see a play. I also wanted to see the Tate Modern, but we didn't get there, either. Next time, for sure. And of course we visited bookstore after bookstore. I could have spent hours in Foyles. I was impressed by how many bookstores one small country can support. Sometimes there would be 3 or 4 right near each other, and all were crowded. Who says reading is dead?

I wanted to get down to Dorset to meet my new online friend Innky (his real name is Andy, but he owns an inn, Mortons House Hotel, so he goes by Innky on our online writing community site). I think he was the first Brit to buy my book, and he's been really supportive, plugging it for me at every turn. He's written his own book -- Innkeeping with Mr Fawlty: The Confessions of an Hotelier -- and I understand it's supposed to be quite funny. I'm waiting for my copy to arrive as I type, so I'll post more about it later once I've read it. Anyway, Dorset, Mortons House, and Innky are on the musst-see list for our "warmer weather" trip.

One last pic -- in the airport bookstore (W.H. Smith) on the way home . . .

Monday, February 04, 2008

Idle Musings While Running

Wouldn't it be neat if they had a device that could just transcribe your thoughts to paper, without the need to type them or say them out loud? On second thought, no -- this seems much too 1984-ish. (Can we use that term any more? Is it still relevant now that the date has passed?) The minute such a device exists, "they" will start using against "us" involuntarily . . . I won't even go there. And don't even write to tell me such a thing already exists; I don't want to know.

I had the first thought because I notice I always "write" blog posts in my head as I'm out running, but by the time I return to my computer, I've lost the way I wanted to say it. Sure, I usually remember the idea, but it never comes out on the screen the way it did in my head. By the time I sit in front of the computer, I'm ready to work on fiction, not on blog posts.

Anyway, I was listening to some DMB as I was running, and I realized why women don't mind the long jams at their concerts -- with the long, slow, extended lead ups and then crashing finales as Dave screams like a madman -- and many men, especially male music critics, do. Many guys accuse them of being self-indulgent. I don't think women see it this way. It's like foreplay and sex. I'll leave it to the reader to think about what I mean . . .

I ran alone this morning, and later, because my running partner Monica had to cancel. Monica has a baby -- she is Gerber baby cute, truly -- and baby was up a lot last night. The run reminded me of why I like running early; it was much hotter and much sunnier at 9 a.m. than it is at 6 a.m. (Indeed, right now it's still dark at 6).

On another, totally unrelated point: I think they should draw a line around the baggage claim carousel at airports, about 3 or 4 feet out, and tell everyone to remain behind the line until you spot your piece of luggage. Think how much easier it would be to (1) see the luggage coming on the belt, and (2) retrieve your suitcase once you've spotted it, without the need to force your way through the crowds hovering right at the edge of the belt. It might take a bit before people voluntarily adhered to the system, but I think once they saw how much easier it made the process, it would catch on. What do you think?

Next post: I'll talk about how I like (or not) the new Kindle book reader by Amazon.

Friday, February 01, 2008

It's Been an Exciting Week for TELL NO LIES

A lot has happened this past week with my book, Tell No Lies.
1. Today is the day it officially goes on sale in the UK!
2. Just a week ago my editor here in the US sent me the final cover (at left) for the US edition, which comes out in May. I think it looks fantastic -- very striking, very contemporary. I've been really lucky to have such great designers for my covers. Let me know what you think.
3. On Sunday, the Travel section of the London Telegraph ran an interview with me about Orlando. Here's the link: Telegraph interview.
4. Best of all, the novel garnered some good reviews! Trashionista called it "an excellent pyschological thriller and an extremely polished debut." The UK's Guardian said Tell No Lies is "an absorbing account of an honourable man gradually yielding to multiple temptations," and "a strong debut from a writer who knows her law, and more importantly, can depict the ebb and flow of relationships, the conflict between love and desire and the irresistible urge to self-destruct of a 'man who has everything'."
So it's been a good week . . . I'm smiling.