Cerebration: July 4, 2021

July 4, 2021

Letting my flag fly today! What a difference a year makes. This year, celebrate the holiday with all the vaccinated people you love. Hit the beach. Fire up the grill. Have fun!

Listen to music…

4th of July Playlist

From the New York Times: Our Best Fourth of July Recipes including this (hello, heatwave!)

NO BAKE Flag Cake

Whatever you do,

have a safe and happy holiday!

Happy New Year 2019!

December 31, 2018

365 new books?

Wishing you all a very happy, healthy new year filled with love, joy and lots of good reads!

Guest Blogger: Jon Land

November 6, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

I am thrilled to welcome Jon Land to the blog! And don’t forget that you can win a signed copy of Murder She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder. Just head over to the Win Books page for all the details.

by Jon Land

To celebrate the publication of MANUSCRIPT FOR MURDER, my SECOND effort writing as Jessica Fletcher in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series, I thought I’d put together my Top Ten list of the most influential crime/mystery shows in television history.

THE UNTOUCHABLES: Fans will remember Robert Stack’s brilliant turn as Elliot Ness, the Walter Winchell narration, and that great Nelson Riddle instrumental theme song. What gets forgotten is that this was the show that defined cops and robbers tales for years to come. Often imitated, but never equaled, Ness and company’s battle with underworld Chicago in the days of Al Capone and Frank Nitty played out week after week in hardboiled and violent fashion.

HILL STREET BLUES: One of the shows that changed television forever, upping the ante across the board as far as writing, plotting and characterization. The late Steven Bochco’s ensemble cast battle bad guys, their worst tendencies, and each other while going about their daily jobs fighting crime. Many of the great crime shows that dominate the cable airwaves owe a huge debt to Blues, which more than any other show at the time brought moral ambiguity to the small screen.

COLUMBO:  What can I say about the rumpled detective famously played by Peter Falk that basically redefined the television mystery? It wasn’t a whodunit so much as how’s-he-solve-it, and Columbo never disappointed. The series invited the audience to play along, searching for the elusive prime clue to be revealed only in the final moment. Episodes ran in various forms for an astounding 30+ years. In not a single one did Columbo ever draw his gun or lose his zeal. Still one of the smartest and best-written shows in television history.

MURDER, SHE WROTE:  Okay, I’m a little prejudiced but this fabulously successful television show starring Angela Lansbury in the title role ran for a dozen years, all but one of them among the top ten rated shows, spawned four TV movies, and is still enjoying a successful run in syndication on Hallmark Mysteries. The notion of an amateur sleuth spawned a slew of imitators that never achieved this level of success or resonated as much or as long in pop culture. It’s safe to say that Jessica Fletcher is America’s premier sleuth with a near 100% name recognition value.

THE ROCKFORD FILES:  The clever answering machine staple opening alerted us from the start of every episode that we were in for a detective tale of fresh ilk. Its light tone, crack ensemble, recurring cast and James Garner’s star turn in the lead role made it must-see TV before anyone had officially coined the term. Garner’s deadpan delivery defined a show that took itself just seriously enough. I can’t remember a single plot-line; all I remember is how much I loved the show.

LAW AND ORDER:  Take your pick as to which one. SVU is still on the air and the original faded out only after a 20+ year run. The series breathed new life into a then moribund TV genre by reinventing the form and managing to survive a slew of cast changes. Such changes had doomed the likes of Route 66, but creator Dick Wolf’s genre-bending format rendered cast members basically interchangeable. Every week, Law and Order did and does deliver on its promise, touching on front-page topics in never letting us down.

CSI: Again, take your pick, but for me the early years of CSI: Las Vegas, starring the great William Petersen similarly helped redefine the television crime genre. Entire episodes would go by without a single gunfight, the action that demanded and commanded our attention limited at times to the claustrophobic confines of police labs where the contents of microscope slides spurred the biggest reveals. Each episode is basically a puzzle waiting to be assembled. We often know, at least suspect, who the killer is, the fun lying in the process used to catch him. Consider CSI the anti-Columbo. The rumbled detective wouldn’t even know how to spell electron spectrograph, while Petersen’s Gil Grissom couldn’t solve a case without one.

NYPD BLUE: Tame by comparison with today’s cable fare, this second Steve Bochco creation nonetheless raised eyebrows everywhere in terms of content ranging from language to sexually-charged subject matter. Yes, it’s known primarily for its salaciousness and being way ahead of its time, but it was also an outstanding police procedural that weathered numerous cast changes in dominating talk around the water cooler for years. Gritty, grungy and morally ambiguous, this is television, and crime drama, at its level best.

PERRY MASON:  Enjoy legal thrillers? They owe their existence to this splendid series of eighty books penned by Earl Stanley Gardner and a television show by the same name starring Raymond Burr in the title role that ran for a decade. The episodes, and the books, continue to hold up and the notion of a sleuthing lawyer and his entourage spawned the likes of John Grisham and Scott Turow, not to mention the slew of lawyer shows that have long been a television programming staple.

MIAMI VICE: One of the true game changers in the history of the airwaves that everyone rushed home to watch when it aired on Friday nights. The show brought both pop music and men’s fashion into the mainstream with musicians and designers alike battling for inclusion from the moment Phil Collins’ “Into the Air Tonight” themed the climactic shootout in the premier. Brandon Tartikoff legendarily based the series on the phrase “MTV cops” he once jotted down on a notepad. True or not, the show brought television into the forefront of pop culture, setting the stage for when the small screen would actually come to define it.

I’m already starting to think of some of the shows I left off this list. How about you? Which would you add?

Murder She Wrote: Manuscript for Murder

Jessica Fletcher investigates a mysterious manuscript with deadly consequences in the latest entry in this USA Today bestselling series…

Jessica Fletcher has had plenty to worry about over her storied career, both as a bestselling novelist and amateur sleuth. But she never had any reason to worry about her longtime publisher, Lane Barfield, who also happens to be a trusted friend. When mounting evidence of financial malfeasance leads to an FBI investigation of Lane, Jessica can’t believe what she’s reading.

So when Barfield turns up dead, Jessica takes on the task of proving Barfield’s innocence–she can’t fathom someone she’s known and trusted for so long cheating her. Sure enough, Jessica’s lone wolf investigation turns up several oddities and inconsistencies in Barfield’s murder. Jessica knows something is being covered up, but what exactly? The trail she takes to answer that question reveals something far more nefarious afoot, involving shadowy characters from the heights of power in Washington. At the heart of Jessica’s investigation lies a manuscript Barfield had intended to bring out after all other publishers had turned it down. The problem is that manuscript has disappeared, all traces of its submission and very existence having been wiped off the books.

With her own life now in jeopardy, Jessica refuses to back off and sets her sights on learning the contents of that manuscript and what about it may have led to several murders. Every step she takes brings her closer to the truth of what lies in the pages, as well as the person who penned them.

Romance authors play the Meet Cute Game

February 24, 2018

Romance authors put their ‘shipping superpowers to the test in the Meet Cute game, where they must imagine how two disparate characters might meet.


March 17, 2017

New York, NY (March 16, 2017) – Last night, at the New School in New York, the National Book Critics Circle announced the recipients of its book awards for publishing year 2016. The winners include Louise Erdrich’s LaRose (Harper), a haunting novel about an accidental shooting and its aftermath for two Native American families; and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown), a narrative nonfiction account of tenants and landlords in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 
Ishion Hutchinson was awarded the poetry prize for House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a collection that traces the landscapes of memory, childhood and the author’s native Jamaica. The criticism award was presented to Carol Anderson for White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury), a searing critique of white America’s systematic resistance to African-American advancement.

Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf) was given the prize in autobiography; it is a witty memoir of her life as geobiologist as well as an eloquent mediation on botany. The biography prize went to Ruth Franklin for Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright), about the author of “The Lottery” and “The Haunting of Hill House,” and the challenges of being a wife, mother and professional writer in mid-century America.

Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf), an ambitious novel that spans continents and centuries to wrap its arms around the African-American experience of slavery, was the recipient of the John Leonard Prize, recognizing an outstanding first book in any genre. Gyasi was born in Ghana and grew up partly in Alabama. She has an English degree from Stanford, an MFA from the University of Iowa, and now lives in New York.

The recipient of the 2016 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, given to an NBCC member for exceptional critical work, was Michelle Dean. Dean’s journalism and criticism appears regularly in The Guardian, The New Republic, and other venues. Her book Sharp: The Women Who Made An Art of Having an Opinion, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic. The Balakian Citation carries with it a $1,000 cash prize, endowed by NBCC board member Gregg Barrios.

The recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award was Margaret Atwood. Born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario, Margaret Atwood is a poet, novelist, story writer, essayist, and environmental activist. She is the author of some 16 novels, eight collections of short stories, eight children’s books, 17 volumes of poetry, 10 collections of nonfiction, as well as small press editions, television and radio scripts, plays, recordings, and editions. Her lifetime contribution to letters and book culture include groundbreaking fiction, environmental and feminist activism, and service to community as a cofounder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. 

In addition, the NBCC announced the first recipients of its Emerging Critics Fellowship, a new initiative which aspires to identify, nurture, and support the development of the next generation of book critics. The fellows are Taylor Brorby, Paul W. Gleason, Zachary Graham, Yalie Saweeda Kamara, Summer McDonald, Ismail Muhamad, and Heather Scott Partington.

Founded in 1974, the National Book Critics Circle Awards are given annually to honor outstanding writing and to foster a national conversation about reading, criticism, and literature. The awards are open to any book published in the United States in English (including translations). The National Book Critics Circle comprises more than 700 critics and editors from leading newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Recipients of the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Awards


Ishion Hutchinson, House of Lords and Commons (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)



Carol Anderson, White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide (Bloomsbury)



Hope Jahren, Lab Girl (Alfred A. Knopf)



Ruth Franklin, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life (Liveright)



Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown)



Louise Erdrich, LaRose (Harper)


The John Leonard Prize

Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing (Alfred A. Knopf)


The Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing

Michelle Dean


The Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award

Margaret Atwood


The NBCC Emerging Critics Fellowships

Taylor Brorby

Paul W. Gleason

Zachary Graham

Yalie Saweeda Kamara

Summer McDonald

Ismail Muhamad

Heather Scott Partington


Bios of award recipients:

Ishion Hutchinson is the author of two poetry collections, House of Lords and Commons and Far District. Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, he moved to the U.S. in 2006 for graduate studies. He’s the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, a Lannan Writing Residency, and the Larry Levis Prize from the Academy of American Poets. He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches in the graduate writing program at Cornell University.

Carol Anderson is Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University. Professor Anderson’s research and teaching focus on public policy; particularly the ways that domestic and international policies intersect through the issues of race, justice and equality in the United States. Professor Anderson is also the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African-American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955 and Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960. White Rage is a New York Times bestseller, and a New York Times Editor’s Pick for July 2016.

Hope Jahren is an award-winning scientist who has been pursuing independent research in paleobiology since 1996, when she completed her PhD at University of California Berkeley and began teaching and researching first at the Georgia Institute of Technology and then at Johns Hopkins University. She is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards and is one of four scientists, and the only woman, to have been awarded both of the Young Investigator Medals given within the Earth Sciences. She was a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu from 2008 to 2016, where she built the Isotope Geobiology Laboratories, with support from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. She currently holds the J. Tuzo Wilson professorship at the University of Oslo, Norway.

 Ruth Franklin is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic. She has written for many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and Salmagundi. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. Her first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2011), was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

 Matthew Desmond is the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University and codirector of the Justice and Poverty Project. A former member of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he is the author of the award-winning book, On the Fireline, coauthor of two books on race, and editor of a collection of studies on severe deprivation in America. His work has been supported by the Ford, Russell Sage, and National Science Foundations, and his writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker and Chicago Tribune. In 2015, Desmond was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” grant. 

Louise Erdrich is the author of 15 novels as well as volumes of poetry, children’s books, short stories, and a memoir of early motherhood. She is a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for her debut novel, Love Medicine. She has also won the National Book Award for Fiction, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has received the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the prestigious PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She lives in Minnesota with her daughters and is the owner of Birchbark Books, a small independent bookstore. 


The National Book Critics Circle, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1974 at New York’s legendary Algonquin Hotel by a group of the most influential critics of the day, and awarded its first set of honors the following year. Comprising nearly 600 working critics and book-review editors throughout the country, the NBCC annually bestows its awards in six categories, honoring the best books published in the past year in the United States. It is considered one of the most prestigious awards in the publishing industry. The finalists for the NBCC awards are nominated, evaluated, and selected by the 24-member board of directors, which consists of critics and editors from some of the country’s leading print and online publications, as well as critics whose works appear in these publications. For more information about the history and activities of the National Book Critics Circle and to learn how to become a supporter, visit http://www.bookcritics.org.

A Day Without a Woman

March 8, 2017



October 2, 2016

Deadline for Submissions is January 13, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The Florida Book Awards kicks off its eleventh annual competition with a call for entries in ten categories. 

Established in 2006 and now the most comprehensive state book awards program in the nation, the contest recognizes and celebrates the year’s best books written by Sunshine State residents with the exception of submissions to the Florida Nonfiction and Visual Arts categories, whose authors may live elsewhere. 

Two new categories are created—Younger Children’s Literature (approximately ages 0 – 6 and Older Children’s Literature (approximately ages 7 – 12.) Prior to this year there was only one Children’s category ages 0 -12. The range and volume of children’s books necessitated the change. 

The Florida Book Awards competition is coordinated through the Florida State University Libraries, with the support of partner organizations from across the state. “The Florida Book Awards showcase the best of Florida’s literary talent as well spotlight the state’s fascinating history and rich natural assets,” said Florida State University Libraries Dean Julia Zimmerman. 

Other contest categories include Florida Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Poetry, Popular Fiction, Spanish Language, Visual Arts, and Young Adult Literature. In 2014, the “Gwen P. Reichert Gold Medal for Young Children’s Literature” was introduced, which provides a cash prize for the gold winner in the Younger Children’s Literature category. This award is in memory of Gwen P. Reichert and serves as a lasting tribute to honor her accomplishments as a rare book collector, nurturer of authors and their audience, and her commitment to children’s education. 

Applicants are encouraged to submit their books into competition any time after the competition is launched, and as soon as possible after books are officially published. Entries, which can be submitted by anyone, must be published between Jan. 1, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2016, and have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). All entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. Friday, January 13, 2016 (this is not a postmark deadline).

Three-person juries –– including members of co-sponsoring organizations, subject experts from the faculties of Florida colleges and universities, and previous Florida Book Award winners –– will choose up to three finalists in each of ten categories. In each category, the jury may award one Gold, Silver and Bronze medal.

Co-sponsors of the competition include humanities organizations from across the state such as the Florida Center for the Book; the State Library and Archives of Florida; the Florida Historical Society; the Florida Humanities Council; the Florida Literary Arts Coalition; the Florida Library Association; the Florida Association for Media in Education; the Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College; the Florida Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America; Friends of FSU Libraries; the Florida Writers Association; the Florida Literacy Coalition; and “Just Read, Florida!” 

The 2016 winners will be announced in early March 2017 and recognized at several events around the state including an awards banquet in April. 

Winning books and their authors will be showcased in the summer 2017 issue of FORUM, the statewide magazine of the Florida Humanities Council, and will be featured at book festivals and association conferences throughout the year. In addition, copies of all award-winning books will be put on permanent public display in the Florida Governor’s Mansion library and in Florida State University’s Strozier Library.

For general information and the entry form, requirements, and more detailed submission instructions for the 2016 Florida Book Awards, visit: http://floridabookawards.lib.fsu.edu/


December 30, 2015

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

A Dukes Behaving Badly Novel

Lady Margaret Sawford is a scandal. She’s writes a short story serial for the newspaper, refused to marry her parents choice, and they’ve disowned her. The only family she has is her sister, the Duchess. Lady Margaret is on a crusade to help the poor women of London, often putting herself in harms way.

While at a ball, she sees a man who grabs her attention – he’s tall and good looking, and wears an eye patch which she finds exciting. Most people find the Duke of Lashem very intimidating, and he’s quite proper and takes his ducal responsibilities most seriously. Until he meets Lady Margaret.

The Lady convinces him he needs adventure, and he finds himself accompanying her on her visits to the poor, and falling in love. She finds herself adventuring sexually with him and she falls in love. They adventure together until the happy ending.

I loved these characters, they were imperfect and real. This is the third book of a fun series.

12/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

ONE-EYED DUKES ARE WILD by Megan Frampton. Avon (December 29, 2015). ISBN 978-0062412782. 384p.



$25,000 Prize For Best E-Book Original Mystery Novel!

October 30, 2015
MysteriousPress.com Announces $25,000 Prize
For Best E-Book Original Mystery Novel

penzler-for-websiteNew York– Otto Penzler, President and Publisher of MysteriousPress.com, has announced a contest for the Mysterious Press Award, which will be given for the best e-book original mystery novel. The winning entry will receive a prize of $25,000 and guaranteed world-wide publication. The winner will be announced at the 2016 Frankfurt Book Fair.

“Digitally published books have become a major element of the publishing landscape over the past few years,” said Penzler. “Our goal is to acknowledge the outstanding work being produced in this format and reward it appropriately. We expect to have some truly wonderful manuscripts submitted for this substantial prize.”

Among those sponsoring the contest will be MysteriousPress.com partners who distribute and market its books: Open Road, in North America and numerous countries around the world; Head of Zeus in the British Commonwealth; Hayakawa Publishing (Japan, Singapore, and South Korea), Bonnier (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland); Dutch Media Books (Holland and Belgium), and Bastei Lubbe (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Greece, and selected Eastern European countries). MysteriousPress.com e-books are distributed in China by Trajectory.

Submissions will be accepted from January 1 through April 30, 2016. Entries must be in English and submitted both electronically (to contest@mysteriouspress.com) and in printed format (to The Mysterious Press, 58 Warren Street, New York, N.Y. 10007). Limit of one book per author. Initial readings of manuscripts will be handled by editors and associates of MysteriousPress.com. The top three entries will then be circulated to its world-wide partners for a final decision.

The contest is open to established authors as well as first-time novelists. Submissions of complete, full-length novels will be accepted only from accredited literary agents and must never have been published previously in any format. All categories will be considered: Traditional detective stories, hard-boiled, noir, police procedural, suspense, crime, historical, humor—any book in which a crime, or the threat of a crime, is central to the theme or the plot. Horror, supernatural, fantasy, and science fiction works are not eligible. The winner will be chosen based on a variety of criteria, including originality and literary quality. Manuscripts will not be critiqued and will not be returned. Employees of Grove/Atlantic, the Mysterious Bookshop, and MysteriousPress.com and its partners are not eligible. See Official Rules for entry requirements and complete details at our website, www.mysteriouspress.com. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

The $25,000 prize will be an advance against future royalties. MysteriousPress.com will publish it as an e-book original with print-on-demand copies also available. World-wide partners will have all rights (excluding dramatic rights) to publish in all formats.

2015 ITW Thriller Awards

July 14, 2015

If you follow me on Twitter, or like my Facebook page, then you know I spent the weekend in New York at ThrillerFest, my favorite conference! I got to chat with all pf my favorite authors – Lee Child, Greg Iles, Sandra Brown, Jon Land, Nelson DeMille, Clive Cussler, Joe Finder and so many more. But for me the best part is meeting new authors, and finding new books to read! And did I mention they give away tons of books at this conference? It’s a book hoarder’s, I mean book collector’s dream, especially as all the authors are there to sign their books.

The conference ends with the Thriller Awards banquet. I admit I skipped it and went to see Jason Alexander in Larry David’s Fish in the Dark on Broadway, but I did find out who won all the awards – congratulations to all the nominees and all the winners.

Best Hardcover Novel

The Fever, by Megan Abbott (WINNER)

Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes

Natchez Burning, by Greg Iles

Suspicion, by Joseph Finder

That Night, by Chevy Stevens

Best Paperback Original

Moonlight Weeps, by Vinent Zandri (WINNER)

The Buried, by Shelley Coriell

My Sister’s Grave, by Robert Dugoni

Shadow Maker, by James R. Hannibal

Whirlwind, by Rick Mofina

 Best First Novel

The Weight of Blood, by Laura McHugh (WINNER)

The Axeman’s Jazz, by Ray Celestin

Invisible City, by Julia Dahl

The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens

The Martian, by Andy Weir

 Best E-Book Original Novel

Hard Fall, by C. J. Lyons (WINNER)

13 Hollywood Apes, by Gil Reavill

The Metaxy Project, by Layton Green

Post, by Sean Black

Wannabes, by Michael Logan

Best Young Adult Novel

Nearly Gone, by Elle Cosimano (WINNER)

The Eighth Guardian, by Meredith McCardle

Tabula Rasa, by Kristen Lippert-Martin

The Unbound, by Victoria Schwab

Wicked Little Secrets, by Kara Taylor