Saturday, December 31, 2005

happy new year!

i have to say the number 6 makes me nervous, although i feel it's more bland than threatening. it lacks the personality and the conviction of 5. but then there's the whole 666 thing.

more photos

first winter carnival ice palace
St. Paul, MN

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN

Minnehaha Falls

Friday, December 30, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

what blog?

i know i've been slacking in the blog department. i have a revision i hope to get in the mail after the first of the year, but here are a couple of things i found entertaining today:

the onion's
least essential albums of 2005

M.J. Rose has a new vidlit out for THE DELILAH COMPLEX. It's probably one of the coolest book videos i've seen to date.


read an excerpt

"The second in the series starring sex therapist Morgan Snow is a big leap forward from 2004's THE HALO EFFECT, mostly because of the social underpinnings about the psychology of female sexuality and why it's so unbelievably difficult to accept that women can desire and demand pleasure. But this is, of course, a suspense novel, and one that's awfully hard to stop reading with some unexpected twists to close things out."
-Recommended by Sarah Weinman, Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

freezin' my coax off

No internet for two days. I've been told it was because of the recent sub-zero temps. Makes the lines brittle and they crack and snap. The internet reminds me of the old days of telephone service. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. *shrug* A gazillion people spend their days patching and duct-taping. Lines are strung all over the outside of my house, and don't even look in the basement. We have connectors and breakers and splitters and cable snaking across the floor. If you were to stagger around in the dark and get tangled up in all those miles of coaxial, you'd never make it out alive. How can something so high tech be so low tech?

I also wanted to share this lovely christmas poem someone wrote for me:

"twas the nite fore krimus an all thru the cabin
not a sole was a sturin
only granny a blabbin

we hunged up our boots by the chimley with care
daddies got melted now hes mad as a bare

the yungins were tied up snug in thare beds
wile dreems of beef jerkie danced round in thare heads

i couldnt sleep so i sat in the chair
hounds started barkin they was sumthin out thare

i run to the window to see fer myself
shore nuff it were santie his mules an a alf

he stopped out in front with them mules in a prance
i got so excited i messed up my pants

he reeched in that wagan an tossed me a toy
krismus is spacial it shore is a joy"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

man with a movie camera

christmas gift ideas

about half the time i come up with some real duds. today i was trying to recall gifts that were actually hits. man with a movie camera is always a good one. this is the most beautiful and amazing film, made in the late twenties by Dziga Vertov. there is nothing i can say that will do it justice or come close to describing it. man with a movie camera really defies description. if you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so. it puts you in the center of 1920s Russia. you are there.

from facets:

Dziga Vertov's masterpiece is an application of "life as it is lived." It makes the cameraman the hero, and is one of the most dynamic experiments with montage; the film also uses trick photography, animation, slow motion and speeded-up shots. "A study in film truth on an almost philosophical level. It does deliberately what others try hard to avoid--destroys its own illusions, in the hope that reality will emerge from the process not as a creature of screen illusion but as a liberated spirit" (Films and Filming). Silent.

customer review from amazon:

Vertov's _Man with a Movie Camera_ is not only the hallmark of Russian Constructivist film but one of the greatest films ever made, no hyperbole intended. Vertov's main premise was to create a new city, an Utopian ideal, through montage and editing. The scenes in the film are taken from footage of the three Russian cities of Kiev, Moscow and Odessa.
Unlike many of the other reviewers, I would have to suggest watching the film with the sound off (at least once.) The music, although originally composed by Vertov, has been adapted more recently by the Alloy Orchestra, and can have the tendency to be a distraction. Indeed, Vertov stated that film should be a medium that stands alone, not muddled by the addition of psychology, romance, or music. He placed tremendous value on the camera's ability to distill truth from visual "garbage," with what he termed "Kino-Eye" or "Truth-Eye."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

the pogues, part 2

this is a great documentary on Shane MacGowan, lead singer and songwriter of the pogues. it's heartbreaking, but also strangely uplifting -- something that took me a second viewing to really understand. you may be able to rent it from netflix. i bought a copy through amazon last year.

Editorial Reviews

As any Pogues fan could've told you, The Shane MacGowan Story was destined to be funny, sad, uplifting, depressing, and utterly irresistible. By the time this engaging documentary was produced in 2000, MacGowan--former Pogues frontman, notorious drinker, and one of the greatest songwriters of his generation--was still the unrepentant alcoholic who caused his former bandmates so much worry. They loved him then and love him still (bandmate Philip Chevron speaks most eloquently of their history), and for all his toothless cackling and constant stupor, MacGowan is seen here as an amiable Irish pub-crawler, coherent in thought if not always in speech, still making music (with his latter-day band, the Popes), and obviously devoted to his wife, Victoria Clarke, an enabling saint whose love for MacGowan is joyfully unconditional. Archival clips, video excerpts, and interviews with MacGowan's friends and family complete this comprehensive chronicle, making it an essential addition to any punk-'n-Pogues library. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description:
This unflinching, music-driven documentary provides the first real insight into the background and career of this legendary Irish artist who, as lead singer and songwriter for the Pogues, became a worldwide punk icon. The film includes contemporary interviews with his family, fellow musicians like Nick Cave, his longtime partner Victoria and direct one-on-one sessions with Shane himself. These are interwoven with performance material stretching back to Shane's earliest work, along with fly-on-the-wall footage from both London and Ireland. Includes performances/videos of the songs: "Paddy Public Enemy No.1", "If I Should Fall From Grace With God", "Infatuation", "Gabrielle", and more.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jeff's novel-enhancing products

if you haven't been reading the write thing featuring JNEP, you are missing out on some of the funniest stuff in blogland.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

the pogues fairytale of new york to be re-released

Fairytale of New York re-released for 2005

The most famous single by The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl is to be re-released on December 19, 2005. Originally released in 1987, the song reached number two in the UK Christmas charts.

The re-release date was chosen to coincide with the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Kirsty MacColl, who duets with Shane MacGowan on the track.

Proceeds from the re-release will be donated to the Justice For Kirsty Campaign, which is petitioning the Mexican government to more thoroughly investigate the circumstances of Kirsty's death, and the homeless charity Crisis At Christmas.

The formats will be as follows:

7" - Fairytale / Battle March Medley
CD - Fairytale / Instrumental Singalong
DVD - Fairytale / Fairytale Video / TOTP performance
There will also be two versions exclusively available only via Internet download. The first, featuring Kate Melua, will be available exclusively from iTunes music store from December 19, 2005. The second, a live performance at Brixton in 2001, will be available from all good online retailers and is available for pre-order from (non-UK residents can use the Card option to purchase).

read more about it here: the pogues

how did i not know about this? i was looking up my favorite christmas song and found out it's being re-released in just a few days! woo-hoo!! And a new documentary about the Pogues will be airing december 19 on BBC. how to get a to get a copy...


It was Christmas Eve babe
In the drunk tank
An old man said to me, won't see another one
And then he sang a song
The Rare Old Mountain Dew
I turned my face away
And dreamed about you

Got on a lucky one
Came in eighteen to one
I've got a feeling
This year's for me and you
So happy Christmas
I love you baby
I can see a better time
When all our dreams come true

They've got cars big as bars
They've got rivers of gold
But the wind goes right through you
It's no place for the old
When you first took my hand
On a cold Christmas Eve
You promised me
Broadway was waiting for me

You were handsome
You were pretty
Queen of New York City
When the band finished playing
They howled out for more
Sinatra was swinging,
All the drunks they were singing
We kissed on a corner
Then danced through the night

The boys of the NYPD choir
Were singing "Galway Bay"
And the bells were ringing out
For Christmas day

You're a bum
You're a punk
You're an old slut on junk
Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed
You scumbag, you maggot
You cheap lousy faggot
Happy Christmas your arse
I pray God it's our last

I could have been someone
Well so could anyone
You took my dreams from me
When I first found you
I kept them with me babe
I put them with my own
Can't make it all alone
I've built my dreams around you

copyright 1988 Shane MacGowan & Jem Finer

Monday, December 12, 2005



1/2 cup vodka
1 - 3 cinnamon sticks
10 cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom

At least twenty-four hours before serving, put above ingredients in container with lid. Shake well, then shake occasionally throughout day.

2 liters of wine. Sangria works well, but any sweet, fruity wine will do.
1/2 cup sugar (more or less, to taste)
Vodka mixture, with cloves and cinnamon sticks strained out.

Put everything in a large pan. Heat well, but don't boil.

Serve with raisins and sliced almonds. These should be put in individual cups before adding about 1/2 cup hot liquid.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

threads of malice

Time for another book tour!

By Tamara Siler Jones

Published as a Bantam Spectra Mass Market Original on November 1, 2005

A blend of historical mystery and paranormal fantasy, Tamara Siler Jones delivers a fast-paced, chilling story with THREADS OF MALICE. Here, in her second Dubric Byerly Mystery, a vicious killer stalks the quiet towns of the northern reach, kidnapping and murdering boys. With a score dead and two more missing, can Dubric and his team find the killer before he strikes again? A twisted murderer may not be all Dubric is looking for...or the only evil that he will find.

Tamara Siler Jones lives in Iowa with her family. An avid mystery reader, this is her second novel, continuing the series that began with Ghost in the Snow, and its main sleuth Dubric Byerly.

In this relentlessly gripping thriller, Compton Crook Award winner Tamara Siler Jones weaves together her unique blend of fantasy, forensics and suspense to create a world terrorized by a killer out of our darkest nightmares. Now one man must follow a trail of savaged victims to save an innocent life hanging by the slimmest of hopes...

One by one, young men in the kingdom's outer reaches are vanishing into the dark. So far, two bodies have washed up on the local riverbank. But Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, soon realizes there are countless more victim...for it's his curse to be forever haunted by the ghosts of those whose deaths demand justice.

The latest to vanish is Braoin, a seventeen-year-old painter whose mother came to Dubric's aid when he most needed it. All Dubric knows is that the boy is still alive. But time is running out, and it isn't only Braoin's life hanging in the balance. If Dubric can't untangle the twisted web of clues and lies and find his way to the killer, one of his own pages will be the next to die....

tamara's website

on the stereo

the clean

from AMG:

While Split Enz came first and hit bigger worldwide, one could argue that there would be no New Zealand rock scene as it is known today if it weren't for the Clean; the sainted Flying Nun label was formed to put out their debut single, their willingness to go the D.I.Y. route in recording their early material set the standard for any number of bands (Kiwi and otherwise), and their playful yet aggressive mixture of pop hooks, jagged guitar lines, neo-Velvets minimalism, and edgy wit paved the way for the Bats, the Chills, the Verlaines, the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, and a handful of other bands who helped New Zealand develop its own musical identity for the first time. Despite their importance and longevity, the Clean have never been especially well-served on record in the United States; their important early singles and EPs received little circulation in America, and their post-reunion albums have been only sporadically available, thanks to the collapse of several indie labels. Anthology isn't the perfect remedy to this situation, but it comes close; it's a superb overview of the Clean's career, with the classic Boodle Boodle Boodle and Great Sounds EPs included in their entirety on disc one (along with several crucial singles and outtakes), while disc two skims off the cream of the later albums Vehicle, Modern Rock, and Unknown Country (four outtakes from the Modern Rock sessions are thrown in for good measure). A thoroughly enjoyable introduction to an important and influential band, Anthology will also fill in plenty of gaps in the collections of American fans; anyone with more than a passing interest in the Clean will find plenty to revel in here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

book video for pale immortal

link removed until the big video launch in january.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

light pillars

everybody is talking about the light pillars seen here last night. also called false aurora. they form when city lights reflect off ice crystals in the air.



i've really been lazy and sluggish when it comes to adding blog links to my template. blame it on the holidays. blame it on this revision i hope to get done before christmas. blame it on the cold, dark days of winter that make me drop into hibernation mode -- which means moving and thinking much more slowly. but anyhow, i have not been getting new links up the way i should. so if you'd like me to link to your blog, please drop me an email -- or reply here -- and i will link away!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

15 Book Things Meme

kelly at words of a writer tagged me for a book thingy.

this was fun, but i couldn't come up with 15!

Hardcovers: I'm not crazy about hardcovers. They are too big and heavy. The latest Elizabeth George book is like a Bible. It really is uncomfortable to read. You almost need a bookstand for it. it's true.

Trade paperbacks: I like trade paperbacks. I like the way they feel and look. They bend and are easy to read. Big print with a nice space between the lines. I even think they look nice when the edges get ratty. Like old jeans.

Library books: Not crazy about library books if they seem particularly and recently read by too many people. Kinda grosses me out. If they've decontaminated a long time, then they're okay. A nurse once told me germs can live months trapped in a library book. Is that true? That seems like one of those stories nurses sometimes tell. Ahem. Like the guy on the motorcycle who gets in a wreck and ends up in the emergency room with a cucumber taped to his inner thigh.

Old books: But I like old books with yellow pages and leather binding.

Books are heavy.

Books are hard to move.

I have an attic full of books that I will unpack if I ever find a permanent place to live.

Since I think I'm going to move, I don't want to put up book shelves. So I have piles of books that are now on the floor and on dressers, in closets and on the floor. And on the floor. Did I say on the floor? :D

I've been thinking a lot about creating a room that has rows of shelves down the middle, like a library.

I have a lot of books I wish I hadn't gotten rid of: and I have a lot I'd like to get rid of. But I'm afraid they will then turn into the ones I regret getting rid of.

anybody else want in on this?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

pale immortal, by anne frasier

Or liker still to one who should take leave
Of pale immortal death, and with a pang
As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse
Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd:
His very hair, his golden tresses famed
Kept undulation round his eager neck.

john keats


Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.
Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.
Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....
As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

coming september 2006



emeraldcite has a blog that is going to be fun and interesting.

boise conference -- murder in the grove

this always looks like a great conference.

murder in the grove

This year's Murder in the Grove, June 2-3, 2006, with Guest of Honor Sara
Paretsky, will also celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sisters in Crime. One
of the top agents in the country, Meredith Bernstein, will be attending and
meeting with writers, as well as new agent (and former author with many
years experience in the film and television industry) Jo Grossman. Giving a
day-long "How to Write Killer Fiction" pre-conference workshop will be
Carolyn Wheat, who was also one of the writers at the founding of Sisters in

Saturday, November 26, 2005

i love the apple store computer geniuses

they call them geniuses instead of computer geeks. i'm not sure genius is any better than geek. the poor guys wear T-shirts with the word genius on the chest. it almost seems as if they are being mocked. i'd really like to see the list of words apple marketing department came up with when they were trying to think of a substitute for geek.

guru. i'll bet that was on the list.

when my son was little, a neighbor kid who didn't speak much english used to call him mr. impossible because neil could fix anything. maybe that would be a better name than genius. but ANYWAY, my computer is back home and repaired in 24 hours. i can't believe it. yesterday they told me they would have to send it to texas, but apparently someone decided to install a new hard drive at the apple store. i didn't play the writer card, or the bitch card -- which i was advised to do by a few people. i never tell people what i do for a living. they just think i'm the lady with the hairy laptop. you should have seen all the cat hair that showed up under those intense lights. grooossssss!!! :D

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

computer problems

my computer has been acting up for a few months, and now i think it's taking a final gasp. if an apple genius can't install a new hard drive at the store on friday (can't believe i'm going to Mall of America on FRIDAY!!!!!), i may be MIA for a while.



Monday, November 21, 2005

now that's what i call viral

the bad plus asks bloggers to match writers to bands and now everybody's doing it and talking about it.

writers and bands

be sure and read the archives

Sunday, November 20, 2005

published and unpublished writers

I don't make a big distinction between published and unpublished writers. Yes, once you're published you are dealing with different issues, but we are all writers and we all love books and stories. Years ago, I was asked to judge a creative writing contest at a small college in Monmouth, Illinois. At that point in my career, I was feeling kind of bored and ambivalent and stale. I agreed to judge not knowing what to expect.

Almost every entry was unique and wonderful. Almost every entry blew me away. One student, who was studying to be a doctor, wrote poems that were amazing and skewed and hilarious. Like nothing I'd ever seen before or have seen since. His last name was Frietag. I remember that. I sometimes wonder if he went on to become a doctor or writer or both. Or a doctor who writes crazyass poems. Anyway, the entries inspired and humbled me. They reset my brain. They stripped away the crap that comes with being a published writer, the crap that can make you forget what this is really about. So I love unpublished writers. Because they have the energy and excitement I've lost. They are excited about the idea, not the royalty statement. They are focused on the story, not the business. Yes, I might know more about structure and pacing, but I sometimes need somebody to put me back in touch with my own imagination and creativity.

now here's a comic that has very little to do with the above post. i just liked it.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Jer's red cross volunteer blog

my friend jer is in florida where she is doing volunteer work for the red cross.
she is blogging from her phone, so posts are sporadic. a bunch of new ones went up today.

in her regular life in milwaukee, she is a counselor, stand-up comic, editor, writer, mom, grandmother, world traveler, and many other things!

jer's blog


Thursday, November 17, 2005

win a DVD of Lars Von Trier's The Kingdom

what a great contest!
were we talking about this here? Lars Von Trier's the Kingdom I and II? i'm always raving about it, so i can't remember.
jon the crime spree guy from crimespree magazine is having a contest where you can enter to win a DVD of THE KINGDOM, series I. woo-hoo! not to be confused with the horrid stephen king version, kingdom hospital.
this was orginally made for Danish television. Von Trier planned to make a Kingdom III, but one of the main actors died. not sure that's the only reason it didn't happen, but it was one of the reasons.

"The brilliance of Lars von Trier's television serial The Kingdom was so clear from the outset, it bypassed television in both the UK and the USA and was granted a cinema release in its own right. In native Denmark, it is said the streets were empty each night of broadcast and roughly half the population tuned in to see each installment. Never has the fantastic and the grotesque been so accessible, mainly because it's never been presented in such an familiar, tried-and-tested context.

The opening credits tell us that the hospital -The Kingdom - was built on unsettled, spirit-infested marshland, which contain forces too powerful to lie dormant any longer. When the film's title card cracks and smashes open, allowing blood gushing out from behind, it's not hard to guess Something Bad is just around the corner.

It's a hospital drama flowing over with the usual romances, staff clashes, blackmail plots and troublesome patients; in other words, juicy, often hilarious soap opera entertainment of the first degree. It is also an eerie, unsettling and, at times, downright terrifying supernatural mystery, filled with phantom ambulances which contain neither paramedics nor patients, the ghost of a little girl who haunts the corridors of the hospital and the most terrifying pregnancy since Rosemary's Baby."

the kingdom contest!


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

writers and public masks

a clinical psychologist encourages shy writers to pretend to be someone else when they are out in public. to do and say and think what a character might do and say. make up a complete history that has nothing to do with who you really are. i've seen this tactic suggested a lot lately. am i the only one who finds it horribly disturbing?
i'm a shy person, and i completely get the concept, but damn. it's just SO WRONG in so many ways. what does this say about our society that we not only accept this idea, but embrace it?
what is the point of being alive if we have to pretend to be somebody we aren't? and are encouraged to do it? oh, it's business, you might say. you have to do what you have to do in order to sell units. business over here; real life over there.
NONONO!! Who you are and what you do should be the SAME THING!!!! it's hard enough to find yourself and keep a grip on that self without being told to bring out a Sybil or doppleganger to do your social work.

sex outside the genre

people have been posting about sex in mysteries. mary louisa and pj parrish wrote about it in their blogs. if i weren't so lazy, i'd provide links.

there has always been talk about how most men of mystery can't write love scenes. or even sex scenes.

most people know this already, but before writing thrillers i wrote romantic suspense, women's fiction, and romance under another name. Thirteen books. So you'd think i'd have the sex and romance figured out. yesterday i spent a large part of the day removing the romantic relationship from my current project. it was just clunky. why? i should be able to do this. and it wasn't that there was no time for romance. it wasn't some ridiculous scene where gunfire is everywhere and the couple decides to make out. there was a place for it. so now i'm thinking that mysteries, and in my case thrillers, don't often lend themselves to deep relationships. the entire book is focused in another direction. in romance, it always leads to consumation, even if understated and subconscious. in romance, the unspoken goal is the bonding of the main characters. this is where the book has been leading from page one, no matter how many diversions it may have taken. in a thriller, the goal is to find the killer, stop the killer, defeat the killer. the reader is in that race with you. hopefully. and anything that takes them out of that race just feels wrong. or maybe i just can't write romance anymore.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Saturday, November 12, 2005

tarot for plotting and characterization

Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante,
Had a bad cold, nevertheless
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,
With a wicked pack of cards.
Here, said she, Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor,
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!)
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks,
The lady of situations.
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel,
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.

T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland"

the guest speaker at our local writers' meeting was a tarot reader. she explained how she uses tarot cards to help writers with plot and characterization. she has a spread she uses to define a character, with cards representing things like inner and outer goals and motivations. she does another spread for the hero's journey. if she's hung up on some aspect of her own writing, she will often pull a card from the deck for guidance. she has a website, if you'd like to read more:

tarot by arwen

Friday, November 11, 2005

harry, the incredible barfing dog

meet harry.
he barfs just minutes into every car ride.

this is harry after giving him benadrly, which the vet said could help.

he went fifteen minutes without throwing up.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

minneapolis music collection

the good old days:

the collection

pretty cool stuff. they even have ecards!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

on the stereo -- back by popular demand

Belle and Sebastian -- Push Barman to Open Old Wounds

I've been a fan of Belle and Sebastian for eight years, before the word twee came along to describe them. This is a three-disc compilation, full of many of my favorite songs, but also missing some great ones like Seymour Stein from Boy With the Arab Strap.

Neil Young -- Zuma

Neil Young -- kinda like Dylan. You either like him or you don't.
this is a wonderful album.

I'm sure some people think the doodle cover is funny and great, but i don't care for it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

grammar shrammar

the video for my book is done. almost.
but the voiceover has a grammatic error that will be a big deal to correct. and it's right at the beginning.


it says: the town was no different from any other small town.

it should be: the town was no different than any other small town.

would you have noticed the mistake?

i wrote it correctly, but put a question beside it. checked, and found i was right, so never said anything else about it. i should have followed up, because the question led to it being changed without my knowing.

Than is used as a conjunction; from is a preposition requiring an object. Your example, the town was no different than any other small town is correct because you're linking two clauses. I know, I know, you're thinking "But any other small town isn't an independent clause." True, but there is an implied "was." You mean the town was no different than any other small town was.

Monday, November 07, 2005

suicidal poets

Signs Of Suicidal Tendencies Found Hidden In Dead Poets' Writings -- posted 2001

An analysis of the use of certain words may uncover hidden signs of suicidal tendencies in writers of poetry, according to new research.

"Suicidal poets are more detached from others and more preoccupied with themselves," says Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, M.A., of the University of Pennsylvania. "Our research also illustrates how text analysis can reveal characteristics of writing that may be associated with suicide and therefore could be useful in predicting suicide among poets."

Stirman and co-author James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Austin, note that suicide rates are much higher among poets than among other literary writers and the general population, although most poets do not commit suicide. Many suicidal poets suffer from some form of depressive disorder throughout their lives, however.

The poets who ultimately committed suicide also used more words associated with death than did the non-suicide group.

The study is published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine

Using text-analysis software, researchers compared words used in 156 poems written by nine poets who committed suicide to words used in 135 poems written by nine poets who did not commit suicide.

The suicidal and non-suicidal poets were matched as closely as possible by nationality, era, education and sex. All were American, British, or Russian.

In poems written throughout their careers, the poets who committed suicide used significantly more first-person singular self-references (such as "I," "me" and "my") and fewer first-person plural words than did the non-suicidal poets.

In addition, the suicidal poets tended to decrease their use of communication words (such as "talk," "share" and "listen") over time, while the non-suicidal poets tended to increase their use of such words.

Suicidal poets selected for the study were John Berryman, Hart Crane, Sergei Esenin, Adam L. Gordon, Randall Jarrell, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Sylvia Plath, Sarah Teasdale and Anne Sexton. The were matched to non-suicidal poets including Matthew Arnold, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Joyce Kilmer, Denise Levertov, Robert Lowell, Osip Mandelstam, Boris Pasternak, Adrienne Rich and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

The research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

you move me

i had this idea i thought would be kind of fun and exciting, but i've shown it to 3 people and none of them seemed particularly impressed. if i'd done it (i haven't completely tossed it out) i would have started with a post of rules. for instance, i wouldn't have moved if only 5 people voted. it would have to have been maybe 5000 votes or something. my son pointed out that people would only find it interesting if i were sent someplace where i would be totally out of my element. a fish out of water story. but i already have that going on.

you move me

Friday, November 04, 2005

a quirky meme!

i was tagged by allen at a novel idea for a quirky meme. i have the feeling people in my family would do a much better job with this list, but here's my attempt:

1. I think a lot of women my age are lame, especially white women. And I'm white.
2. I never leave the house without antibacterial hand gel. I went two years without catching a cold. Caught the last one from my hair stylist when I was getting ready to do several book signings - so I was sick as hell the whole time.
3. I never cook. I cooked three crappy meals a day for 20 years. That's enough.
4. I love music more than books. I don't think rock gets enough respect as an art form.
5. I might be an acid casualty. If you ever meet me, you'll notice that there is often a delay to my responses. It takes my brain a little while to process what you just said.
6. If I see somebody crying, even somebody I don't know, I cry too. Once I was driving down the street and saw a woman crying. I started crying.
7. I know nothing about sports, especially football, and don't want to. I used to enjoy watching my kids play hockey and softball, but why would I want to watch somebody I don't even know run and slide and fall down? Yawn.
8. I DETEST cold weather, but live in Minnesota. Every fall I talk about moving, about GETTING THE HELL OUT OF THIS HELLISH HELL, but can't decide where to go so I never do it.
9. Has Phillip Seymour Hoffman ever been named sexiest man alive? If not, he should be.
10. I love zombies!

i haven't kept up with my blog reading today, so i don't know who's been tagged.

tag: jer -- she's in new york right now, but she'll probably want to do this when she gets back
tag: emom

i'm so lazy today. i'll try to post links later!!

this was a fun meme -- thanks, allen!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

friends and family

do friends and family read your blog?
most of mine don't, or at least i don't think they do. i can understand if we're talking about somebody you see every day. i wouldn't expect my kids to read my blog, but what about people in other parts of the country that you don't talk to very often? seems like a good way to keep updated, but most relatives and friends act as if the idea of going to my blog is weird. i shouldn't say that. most don't even acknowledge that i mentioned it. :D

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

contest! drawing! win a copy of who died in here!

the wonderful pat dennis has invited me to be part of her november contest. answer a question correctly about one of my books, and your name will be entered in a drawing for WHO DIED IN HERE?

here is the link, with all of the information you need:

the winner will be announced December 1. wow. that's only a month away???
when you're visiting the Penury Press site, be sure to read about SILENCE OF THE LOONS, a recently released anthology by minnesota mystery writers. Pat is one of the contributors. i have the book, but haven't read it yet. i plan to read pat's story soon -- maybe today -- and report back!

Monday, October 31, 2005

my kid's halloween costume

guess who she was.

Once Upon a Crime Mystery Annex book Sale

a message from pat and gary at once upon a crime:


"Once Upon a Crime's Mystery Annex has run out of room. We've recently purchased several collections of some great titles, and haven't the shelf place for all of them. So...

For the next 2 weeks, we've set up a table in the store filled with about 250 books, all priced at $2 each, or 3 for $5! New titles added daily!"

for directions and hours, click on the once upon a crime link on the left.

also right there and worth a stop: treehouse records and french meadow bakery!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

halloween tale of terror

my brother's doppelganger

when i was fourteen and my younger brother was eight, we lived in an isolated desert town in southern New Mexico. my brother stood out in the largely Hispanic community because he had straight white hair and pale skin. it was Halloween. he was going as a vampire. he and my mother were in the bathroom where she was putting on his makeup. i stood watching in the doorway. we were chatting and laughing. someone knocks at the front door. i leave the bathroom, go approximately ten steps to the door. turn on the porch light and open the door, expecting a trick or treater. there is my brother, standing, not on the porch, but at the bottom of the steps, dressed in his black cape. nothing on his head. his white hair. he looks terrified. my mind is struggling with the impossible logistics of the situation. i ask how he got out there. I ask what's wrong? he runs beyond the circle of the porch light, into the dark. i return to the bathroom to tell my mom. there they both are, just as i left them.
this was a very small, one story house. probably less than 1,000 square feet. the bathroom was just a few paces from the front door. the bathroom had a window, but it was high, almost to the ceiling, and very small. if my mother had been able to stuff him through, he would have dropped six feet on the other side, then would have had to run around the house to get to the front door. logistically, it would have been impossible to pull off.

Over the years, I've asked my brother about this and he doesn't even remember it. He just gives me the same puzzled and confused look he and my mother gave me that night.

International Thriller Writers, Inc. invitation

International Thriller Writers, Inc. wants you!! use the link on the bottom left to go to the International Thriller Writers site -- and please sign up for the newsletter while you're there!!

Readers Invitation:

International Thriller Writers, Inc., is excited to invite you to attend
the world premier of the International Festival of Thrillers ---
ThrillerFest. It will be June 29 to July 2, 2006 at the fabulous Arizona
Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix.

You'll find a wealth of exciting panels and events with many of your
favorite best-selling and up-and-coming authors. Here's a taste:
Spotlight Guests like Douglas Preston, Brad Meltzer, RL Stine and John
Lescroart; David Morrell discussing the making of his ground-breaking
novel First Blood into the movie "Rambo;" a Readers Reception in which
ITW's THRILLER anthology will be unveiled and sold for the first time; and
the ITW Awards Banquet where the first annual International Thriller
Awards will be presented.

Don't miss out on the fun and excitement! To register or learn more, go
to Early Bird Registration is only $195 and the
Biltmore is providing a special discounted block of rooms set aside for
ThrillerFest attendees. Hurry though, they're going fast!

ThrillerFest is for everyone, but especially for readers of thriller
fiction. Not only is it a chance to meet favorite thriller authors and
learn more about the genre, but ThrillerFest also welcomes your input on
the programming, so don't forget to fill out the questionnaire when you
register. Go to and join us as we make thriller

Monday, October 24, 2005

here, kitty kitty kitty

anybody in the twin cities area need a kitten? or three kittens?
when my daughter was little, she was always dragging home kittens. flash-forward. my daughter is out of college and still dragging home kittens. this time a feral cat had kittens near her place. she had three people who said they'd take one, she caught the kittens, and now here we are a week later. nobody even came to look at the things. they're cute as hell, so i'm sure one glance and that would be that.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

a literary meme

i was tagged by jason, who has a beautiful blog
called the clarity of night

okay, this was fun, but harder than i thought it would be! I'm afraid i didn't do a very good job.

Here are the rules, if you decide to play:

1. Take first five novels from your bookshelf.
2. Book 1 -- first sentence.
3. Book 2 -- last sentence on page 50.
4. Book 3 -- second sentence on page 100.
5. Book 4 -- next to the last sentence on page 150.
6. Book 5 -- final sentence of the book.
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph.
8. Feel free to "cheat" to make it a better paragraph.
9. Name your sources.
10.Post to your blog.

my feeble attempt:

I hated to admit, even to myself, that i was excited by the prospect of interviewing a descendent of Mary Brown, who was probably the last person exhumed as a vampire in america.

I would always get there first, check in.

NO HLP FR BLND BABS PR LL GRLS Iam glad I bit mister Astlay

Bruce and I were walking down sunset, we found a roach on the sidewalk and we smoked it.

the bare skeleton, in our culture the very symbol of the terror of death, is in other cultures evidence that the body is safe and the living are out of harm's way.


food for the dead -- michael bell
the handmaid's tale -- margaret atwood
poor things -- alasdair gray
shakey -- neil young biography
vampires, burial, and death -- paul barber

i tag:

jeff the write thing
kelly words of a writer
emom a day in the life
rob anatomy of a book deal
jer my life's not an adventure...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

jeff's new blog

check out the write thing, and jeff's hilarious post about this: jeff's novel-making machine

no recovery for book sales

chains report another quarter loss.

used book sales up over 11%.


interesting that this is close to the decline figure of 12% for mass market fiction.

i also find it interesting that in all of the articles i've read about the massive increase in used books sales, no one ever mentions the proliferation of online swap clubs.

years ago, i put this dedication in a book: special thanks to everyone who bought this book new.

i got hate mail. angry readers said they would never read another one of my books because of that dedication.

i have nothing against used bookstores. i love used bookstores. i have friends who own used bookstores, but i wish there were some way to control new book sales. i wish they couldn't be sold used for a year. i wish amazon wouldn't sell used books right next to the new ones. and i really wish they wouldn't sell used books BEFORE the new book is even released. 10 - 15 years ago, publishers should have united to tackle this problem. now it could be too late.

Monday, October 17, 2005

a century of fakers

One thing that occupies a big space in my head is worrying about all of the pretenders out there. Those people who have somehow made it to a position of power simply because they are so full of shit. They have somehow been able to trick a large number of people into thinking they know what they're talking about. What I find fascinating is how a faker can fake another faker into thinking he's real. Fakery is everywhere. Musicians. Writers. Lawyers. Doctors. All the way to the president, who might be one of the biggest fakers. How did this way of living become so rampant? Did my generation - the baby boomers - make it acceptable? When we hung up our hash pipes and quit tripping in the park, did we move on to another form of entertainment where we pretended to be adults? It's tough, this fakery. When we live in a world so inundated with fakers, it makes it hard to know if a person is legitimate, or just a clown in a closet.

(this is why chronic complainers shouldn't have blogs.)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

the loneliness of the middle distance runner

i believe that characters who are alone and are loners are integral to most suspense plots.

Carolyn Wheat, in her book How to Write Killer Fiction, says, "Surround your hero with friends, and you lose the intense identification that makes true suspense so compelling."

somebody i know doesn't believe this, and always thinks my protagonists should have a huge support group of friends and family.

Friday, October 14, 2005

sex in the morgue

so, whadya think?

inappropriate for protagonists in a thriller/horror novel? and i'm not talking sex with a dead body, or next to a dead body.
not on an autopsy table
not in a cooler

i see nothing wrong with it, but i've been led to believe that i may need professional help.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

do elephants jump?

let's try this again. yesterday when i posted this, my blog went screwy.

David Feldman is the guru of pop culture. You've probably heard of his wonderful Imponderable books where he tackles tough questions such as, do elephants jump?

dave's website

Monday, October 10, 2005

on the stereo


i forgot how great this is.

got a mint vinyl pressing for my birthday. i don't think it's ever been played.

thanks, neil. :)