THE PUPPY BOWL—Who Are You Rooting For And Why?

Every year at this time most of America is gearing up for the Superbowl. Not me. I’m gearing up for the Puppy Bowl. As you all know, while I enjoy football, baseball is my sports love. But even that is dwarfed by my love of dogs. And puppies are so cute, so innocent, so loving, and so funny that how can I resist watching them compete for the win?

Belgian Shepherd puppy playing with a sneaker

Personally, I find myself rooting for the troublemakers. And why not? I was a troublemaker when I was a kid, so why wouldn’t I be drawn to a gutsy little pup who’s all boundless energy and determined to get his (or her) way? He or she is the one who steals the toys, manipulates competitors away from the finish line, and zips by them when the opening presents itself. He or she is also the one with the most penalties, and who couldn’t care less because he/she can’t wait to get back out there and do something naughty again. I can totally relate, because I was that troublemaker as a little kid. And, like toddlers, all those puppies’ antics are done without malice or secret agendas, but openly, with total innocence and the sheer joy of experiencing life. Ok, yeah, they drive their parents crazy in the process. But that’s just an unintentional byproduct of the personality type.

The concept of personality type brings me to the other reason why I gravitate to the Puppy Bowl. As a writer who focuses on character development and the workings of the mind, and a writer who adores dogs and writes them into all my books, I love studying human AND canine personalities. (Warning: anyone who tells me that dogs don’t have specific personalities and character traits is going to get a diatribe from me on why they’re wrong.)

Let’s focus on the troublemaker personality I described above. What is a dog like that thinking and how does he demonstrate it? Just look at his expression. His eyes are usually bright, his gaze darting everywhere at once, and his ears are standing up tall. He can’t sit still, and, if confined, he’ll probably try to tackle the barrier that’s keeping him from his goal: playtime. Big or small, this pup is an Energizer Bunny. His “tells” also suggest that he’s intelligent, impatient, single-minded, and oblivious to how others judge him. He’s just drinking in life, and yearning for more. I, for one, wish I could be more like him even now that I’m an adult!

Border Collie Running with Frisbee

That’s just one small capsulized description of one type of pup. I could go on and on. There’s the shy pup, the “affection sponge” pup, the athletic pup, the leader-of-the-pack pup, the I’ll-do-my-own-thing pup, the aggressive pup, the easygoing pup, etc. And each and every one of them has his/her own specific “tells” that clue us into who he/she is.

So, don’t give up the Superbowl. Just tune into the Puppy Bowl earlier that day. Watch those little guys/girls carefully, and you’ll see exactly what I mean. I bet you’ll connect with at least one of them. And, when that happens, pay close attention to your choice—because it probably says a lot about you!

Bulldog Exhausted

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Catch-up & Book Expo craziness!

It’s been ages since I touched base.  So sorry.  Life has been beyond difficult and painful, as those of you who are following me on Facebook know.  In the meantime, the months have passed, and the paperback of THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE is due out on June 25th.  Right on the heels of that– on September 24th– will be the release of THE STRANGER YOU KNOW, the 4th book in the Forensic Instincts series.  So I’m super-excited!

BEA is in full swing, and I’ve enjoyed the publishers’ parties.  But today is what I REALLY look forward to– signing books and getting to meet my readers.  I’m off to the Javits Center now, so if you’re there, come by the Harlequin booth at 10 AM and say hi!

I promise to blog again soon.  I miss you all!

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Book Expo Day #2!

Yesterday was a blast at BEA– it’s hard to believe the Javits Center can hold so many enthusiastic (and frenzied!) people. I loved signing my advance copies of THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE, and I felt terrible when I ran out of copies to sign. Today I’ll be signing more copies of THE LINE at the Mystery Writers of America booth #4451 at 11:45, and then back at the Harlequin Book booth #3739 at 1:00 signing copies of LOVE IS MURDER. A whirlwind day! BTW, if I do run out of copies again, THE LINE will be released on June 26th, so hang in there!

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Book Expo

Today and tomorrow– June 5th and June 6th– will be two busy, crazy days at Book Expo in NYC, where I’ll be signing advance copies of THE LINE BETWEEN HERE AND GONE and copies of LOVE IS MURDER. Come visit me at the Harlequin Book booth #3739 on the 5th from 2:00-2:45 and the 6th from 1:00-1:45. Say hello, and get your autographed copies! I’ll also be at the Mystery Writers of America booth #4451 on the 6th from 11:45-12:15, so you can visit me there as well. Hope to see you there!

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I have exciting news! I’m proud to be part of the suspense anthology LOVE IS MURDER, to be released by Mira Books on MAY 29TH 2012. My story, LOCKDOWN, features three of our favorite characters, all in one story: FBI agents Sloane and Derek Parker AND Forensic Instincts team member Claire Hedgleigh!

Today is the official cover unveiling– so feast your eyes on this dynamic book jacket:
Love is Murder

I hope you’re as excited as I am! You can pre-order the book at both Amazon and B&N. And I’ll have lots more to tell you as the release date draws nearer…

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The Lull

It’s a funny thing about finishing a book.  The relief is tremendous.  The follow-up work is long and cumbersome (but worth it).  And then comes the lull.  That bittersweet time when you can actually catch up on your sleep, your meals, your family, your friends, your reading– your life.

Why bittersweet?  Because, for me, I’m happiest when I’m writing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I hate the pressure at deadline time, when I’m a fizzled-out excuse for a human being.  I hate when the ideas don’t come and the writing doesn’t flow.  I hate the self-doubt of hoping that the book is as good as I aspired to.  And I love typing the words “THE END.”

But then there’s that void.  It comes with all the guilt of knowing I should be cleaning my office, going food shopping, straightening up the house, and doing all those other chores I vowed to do the minute I felt humanoid again.  It also comes with a sense of loss– like my child grew up and is ready to stand on its own two feet.  I’m thrilled– but I miss my “baby”, all at once.

And then comes the daunting task of starting all over again.  The dreaded Page 1.  The masterpiece I’m supposed to create from a jumble of good ideas and equally good intentions.  So how do I unwind and relax when my brain is already three steps ahead of me, worrying about its next challenge and, at the same time, chomping at the bit to get started?

I think that, through writing this blog entry, I came to the fact that there is no lull at all.  It’s just another step in the process, probably my least favorite because I’m not actively DOING something.  But my brain is.  It NEVER shuts down.  Vacations don’t work.  Sleep doesn’t work.  Distractions don’t work.  Let’s face it.  I’m not happy unless I’m immersed in writing a book.

So I guess I’d better get some sleep now, because I’ll be back at the computer in no time!

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Conference come-down

The reason you haven’t heard from me in a while is because I’ve been attending back-to-back writers conferences.  The good part about that is that I got a chance to meet lots of my readers, sign books, chat with colleagues, attend great workshops, give a really fun workshop of my own, and eat way too much.  The bad part about that is that I barely wrote a word, missed staying in touch with all of you, ate WAY too much, slept way too little, and totally overtaxed my mind and body.  And, as usual, I’m paying the piper.  I’m sick.

You have no idea how frustrating it is to be feverishly sick when you’re a writer.  The computer screen looks like an alien being, the keyboard looks like gibberish, and my brain is incapable of stringing two thoughts together, much less come up with exciting elements of suspense for my characters to conquer.  The advice is always the same: get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and take your antibiotics.  Great.  In the meantime, my storyline hammers at the back of my head, furious at me for restraining it, and that, combined with my “sick symptoms” prevent me from getting any rest at all.

The best news is that there’s light at the end of my tunnel.  Today, my brain actually woke up with a shred of clarity.  So I’ll be jumping right back into my writing, for however many hours I can muster.  But I had to touch base with all of you first, because it’s been way too long.  Just know that I’m back, I’m on the mend, and I’m busily writing the next Forensic Instincts book!  No hints about it yet, but I LOVE having Casey and the team back in my mind and on my computer screen.

The moral of the story?  Conferences are great, but (to quote Dorothy Gale from Kansas) “there no place like home!”

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How to Measure a Book’s Success

Last night I found out that THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE had hit the New York Times Bestseller list after just 5 days on sale.  To say I was elated would be a gross understatement.  I whooped and I cheered and I celebrated by sharing a quart of ice cream with my family.  I think I consumed a pint of it myself, which I paid for dearly later on, when the enormity of it hit my stomach!  But as for the book, I felt a sense of validation that was euphoric.  My “baby” had been recognized in a big way.  I went to sleep with a smile on my face.

When I woke up this morning, I found tons of emails and Facebook posts from my readers congratulating me and telling me how much you loved the book.  I can’t describe how touched I was, and how lucky I felt to have such amazing fans.  The fact that you all had read and loved the book, or that you’d bought or were about to buy it, fully expecting to devour it in one day, meant the world to me.  And I felt validated in an even more profound way.

I love what I do.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love being successful at it.  But more than anything, I love making a difference to my readers, to giving them hours of excitement and pleasure, and to leaving a lasting impression that might compel them to go back sometime and re-read THE GIRL, or to recommend it to a friend, or to seek out another of my novels.

So, because of all of you, THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE is a success.  Not only in fact, but in all the ways that matter.

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The Birth of a Book

Yesterday was release day for THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE.  Even after two dozen books, I still feel a surge of excitement, butterflies in my stomach, and a burst of pride when I see my “baby” on the bookshelves.  Which brings me to my point.  Researching, creating and writing a book is a great deal like having a baby.  There’s the conception, the gestation, the endless waiting, the pain and pleasure of the ultimate experience, and the wonder and relief of seeing and holding your “child” for the first time.  Maybe that explains why negative reviews hurt so much.  Some anonymous person is calling your baby “ugly”.  No new parent wants to hear that!

In any case, pub day yesterday was wonderful.  I got phone calls, emails, Facebook posts, photos of my book in stores, in people’s hands, in newspaper ads.  I even got a congratulatory note from the FBI!  I was like a kid in a candy store.  Days like that are gifts.  I treasure them and keep them tucked away, to take out on those difficult, frustrating days when the words won’t come and the cursor blinks angrily at me.

So I thank all my readers, colleagues, friends, and family for giving me a magical day.  No matter how many children you have, the birth of a new one is still an inexplicably spectacular experience!

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Meet Hero, one of our brilliant law enforcement and military dogs

When you read THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE, you’ll meet Hero, the extraordinary four-legged member of my new maverick investigative team Forensic Instincts. He’s one awesome bloodhound!  He’s also a certified FBI Human Scent Evidence dog, who’s instrumental in working the kidnapping case that’s at the heart of THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE.  You’ll also see that I dedicated Hero, and my book, to Freddy, who was an FBI Tactical Canine Dog who gave his life in the line of duty.

Freddy was a Belgian Malinois, a beautiful dog who’s the Belgian equivalent of a German Shepherd.  He threw himself in front of a bullet and allowed the FBI to bring down a group of alleged terror suspects in Detroit, Michigan.  He was honored in a special ceremony in Quantico and his name is listed among the other FBI canine heroes.

As a result of all my research, I wasn’t surprised to read several articles that said that a Belgian Malinois was part of the SEAL team that invaded Osama Bin Laden’s compound and assassinated him.  Evidently, the heroic dog was strapped to a Navy SEAL and lowered from a helicopter to the ground, where he did his job along with the rest of the team.

I am SO proud of our heroic military and law enforcement dogs– they’re one more reason to place dogs at the top of the best-of-the-best list!

I can’t wait for you to meet Hero… only 10 more days to go until THE GIRL WHO DISAPPEARED TWICE hits the bookshelves and e-readers!

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