Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Elements of Mystery Panel at Santa Monica Public Library

Hey! You busy on Saturday afternoon? Wanna come to Santa Monica?

I'll be at Santa Monica Public Library at 2:00, hanging out with Naomi Hirahara, Kim Fay, Samuel Gailey and Don Passman, and we'll be talking about mysteries and how to write 'em.

We'll also sign books and there will be things to nibble. And it's Santa Monica!

From the Bottom to the Top...

I had the wonderful opportunity to write an essay for Zocalo Public Square!

By now, you know where I grew up.

This piece talks more about that and how I wanted up that hill.

Hope you go over and read it and share it with your friends!

Friday, August 1, 2014

File NPR Interview Under 'Dream Come True'

Okay, y'all. You've noticed that blog posts have been slim to none -- closer to none.

Cuz I've been busy. Busy as a bee, as a beaver, as a bee and beaver whooping it up at the Hoover Dam. And I've been so very tired. Like, "dark bags under my eyes" kind of tired. Like, "too tired to play a videogame" kind of tired.

Now, though, I've gotten some energy. Even started playing "Borderlands"! And starting third edits of Lou Norton #3, titled TRAIL OF ECHOES.

This summer, I signed and read and met wonderful readers and writers -- from Book Carnival, Mysterious Galaxy, Eso Won Books, A Great Good Place for Books, The Last Bookstore to the American Library Association's annual conference in Las Vegas! I was honored to post pieces on Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds and Jungle Red Writers blogs.

To top it all off, to just... make me feel like I'm in Oz and Narnia and Heaven, I had the chance to hang out with the so-talented Karen Grigsby Bates. Karen is a novelist -- Plain Brown Wrapper and Chosen People. She is also a correspondent for NPR. Because God is saying 'Yes!' to me right now, I was recently featured on NPR's "Crime in the City" series. Karen and I spent two afternoons together, talking about LAND OF SHADOWS, Elouise Norton and Los Angeles, yesterday and today.

Rachel Howzell Hall is easing her big, laurel green Mercedes sedan through the streets of Los Angeles. A slim woman with big eyes, Hall says this Benz is her dream car, the thing she'd planned to buy for herself once she'd become a successful writer, probably around age 50.

But something happened to speed up her schedule.

"When I was 33 years old," Hall says, "I was diagnosed with a rare type of breast cancer. And I was pregnant. And it was terrifying."

Please click over and hear the rest!

Listening to it air on Tuesday... no words. Yes, I cried. Yes, I could hardly concentrate on anything else. Yes, I couldn't believe it.

But it happened!

All of it happened!

And thank you all for making my dream come true!

Oh -- and if you belong to a book club, and you're reading LAND OF SHADOWS, I Skype!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I'm Still Here!


It's been a while but I've been busy!

This weekend, I'll catch you up on all things LAND OF SHADOWS because that's been my June!

Talk to you soon!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lou and Monique and Good Girls and Bad Boys

I recently wrote a post for popular crime-writing blog Crimetime about Lou Norton -- but also about how the story came to be about Monique Darson:

In Land of Shadows, Detective Elouise 'Lou' Norton needs to figure out who killed Monique Darson, and whether it's the same monster that stole her sister more than twenty years ago... This story started to germinate in my mind soon after the murder of the granddaughter of the then Los Angeles police chief. 

Click over and read the whole piece!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Two hundred and six bones make up the adult human skeleton.

And on a Wednesday night in June, I was perfecting my hammer fist, an efficient strike that could break at least four of those bones.

Fifteen minutes into my Krav Maga class, the bell tower rang—a ring tone chosen for Lieutenant Zak Rodriguez. And even though I was hammer fisting; even though, a yard away, my friend Lena was flirting with Avarim as he taught her how to break from a choke hold; even though I was off duty and needed this workout and was observing the tradition known as “having a personal life”—duty called.

For whom the bell tolled.

Elouise Norton, LAPD Homicide Detective, Southwest Division.

I excused myself from my trainer, Seth, and padded over to the mirrored wall. I scrutinized my abs, a part of my body that rarely saw the sun and was always hidden beneath silk shirts and six pounds of Kevlar. Not to brag, but my belly looked awesome in this light.

I grabbed my iPhone and towel from the floor and glanced at the phone’s picture of a middle-aged Latino with smoke-colored eyes and a Clark Gable mustache.

And the bell tolled again.

I took a deep breath, then said, “Lou here.”

“You’re not answering your radio,” Lieutenant Rodriguez shouted. Sirens blared in the background.

“Because it’s in the car.”

“And why aren’t you in the car?”

“Because I’m on the Westside, getting in some exercise.”

Lena, also getting in some “exercise,” was now sticking her ass into Avarim’s crotch and cooing, “Like this? Like this?” Newly divorced, Lena was tiny and dazzling. More than that, she could filet men like a hungry grizzly could filet salmon.

I swiped the towel across my sweaty forehead. “What’s up, LT?”

“A Jane Doe hanging in a closet.”

Unimpressed, I lifted my left knee to my chest and held it for two seconds. “Oh, yeah?”

In this city, Jane Does were always found hanging around. In closets, off bridges, in shower stalls …

“Yeah. A security guard found her in one of those condos over on Santa Rosalia near the Jungle, the ones still under construction. You know ’em, right?”

I had started to lift my right knee but froze. My grip tightened around the phone because yeah, I knew Santa Rosalia, and yeah, I knew the Jungle. From age three and on to my eighteenth birthday, I had lived in that part of black Los Angeles. Worse, my big sister, Victoria, had been snatched off those streets, never to be seen again. I hated the Jungle, and yet I had never left.

“From what the first officer told me,” Lieutenant Rodriguez was saying, “she’s pretty ripe, more than five hours old, and … Hey, you there?”

I stifled a sigh. “Yep. I’m … good.” But his words must have spooked me—Lena had abandoned sexy Avarim to come stand beside me. Big brown eyes wide with worry, she touched my wrist and whispered, “You okay?”

I nodded, even though, no, I wasn’t okay, not entirely. “I don’t understand,” I said to my boss. “Why am I catching this? Last time I scanned the board, there were blank spaces by Guerrero’s and Dolby’s names.”

“First,” he said, “you know the people in that area better than Guerrero and Dolby, so it won’t take thirty years for you to figure out your ass from your elbow. Second: Guerrero and Dolby are on everybody’s shit list for screwing up that Sizzler robbery, and this Jane Doe in a closet could be something, and I really don’t wanna read in the Times that two Southwest Division dicks forgot to fingerprint the scene. I swear those two are SOS.”

He paused, then added, “I know you have two cases simmering right now, but you know and I know that our clearance rate is shit right now. I need the A-Team on this.”

“One more question,” I said. “May I ask why you’re heading out to a suicide? Not that I don’t enjoy your company.”
“Again: she’s on Napoleon Crase’s property. That worries me.”

Yeah. That worried me, too.

“I just want everything done right,” he said. “I already called Taggert and he’s en route to the scene. He’s an ass, but he’s now your ass, so be nice to him, all right?”

“I’m always nice,” I said with a smirk.

He chuckled. “Oh, yeah. You’re a black Marie Osmond. Meet you over there.”