Monthly Archives: September 2010

Seattle, here we come

Heading north this Saturday for a gig at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop. Cannot wait.

This is a truly cool independent bookstore, and if you haven’t discovered it yet, find a way to do so. If you’re a lover of great bookshops, and if you’re in the Seattle area, you’d be crazy not to.

The event is noon this Saturday at the shop, 117 Cherry St. in Pioneer Square. For details, click here.

Oh, and a propos of nothing, the event got a one-sentence write-up in Seattle Weekly. It listed the name and address of the shop, the date and time, and my name. Then added: “Her new mystery is ‘Crashers.’”

I really gotta update that mug shot of mine.

Salem rocks!

Terrific event last Thursday at the Salem Library. We drew about 40 people for a question-and-answer session. Many thanks to Sonja for organizing the event and to Tim of The Willamette Store for selling copies of the book.

On ‘The Zone’

Whilest planning my presentation for Saturday’s Sisters In Crime workshop at Portland Community College, I realized my theme is going to be pretty simple: When writing a mystery novel, you better be entertaining yourself. If the act of writing the book becomes a chore – like cleaning the cat box or making the kids’ lunch – then you’re in trouble.

So I’ll be talking about ways to stay in The Zone. To keep the writing lively and fresh and fun.

You should come check it out. Chelsea Cain, April Henry, Sharan Newman and Robert Ray will be on hand to share their knowledge. Murder By The Book will be there to talk about trends. There’ll be sandwiches, dammit. With chips and, I dunno, kosher spears. Seriously. Who could ask for anything more? Go to for more details.

These women…

Today should be fun.

I get to go to the 2010 Saward Breakfast and Panel Discussion, which is hosted by the Center for Health Research.

Among the speakers is Robin Doussard, editor of Oregon Business Magazine, a longtime friend and an exceptional journalist. Robin and I have done so many speaking engagements together over the years that she often refers to me as her panel husband.

She also makes me laugh like no one I ever met.

Darleen Ortega of the Oregon Court of Appeals will be there. Justice Ortega is one of those people who make you glad your mom and your sister live in Oregon. What a tremendous role model.

Professor Melody Rose of PSU will be there. What can I say about Melody? Academic, historian, political scientist, organizer of the annual New Leadership Oregon program, which introduces college-age women to role models. I can’t even count the number of students I know who have come out of her program ready to be the leaders of today and tomorrow. If Oregon is a great state – and I think it is – point to people like Melody as the reason.

And Governor Barbara Roberts will be there.

Normally, one says positive things about a lawmaker. Like: She served Oregon well, she passed progressive laws, she’s a sterling example of the best of public servants. All true. So take this in the spirit it’s intended when I say: I have a huge crush on Gov. Roberts.

My girlfriend, Katy King, is OK with this revelation. She has the same crush.

When I think of the people I admire most, Gov. Roberts quickly rises to the top of the list.

Today, as part of my job as communications director for Portland Community College, I get to go admire these women.

See why I’ve got the best job in the freaking universe?

Self-revealing dialogue

My friend Abraham and I were talking the other day about self-revelatory dialogue. It’s an amazing tool, if you can use it. But it’s a hell of a writer who can.

An example comes from the 2005 film, “Serenity.” The character, Jayne Cobb, is a thug but, because writer Joss Whedon is so talented, Jayne doesn’t see himself as a thug. He talks about his “warrior ethic,” which quickly devolves into thuggery. It goes like this: “Hell, I’ll kill a man in a fair fight… or if I think he’s gonna start a fair fight, or if he bothers me, or if there’s a woman, or if I’m gettin’ paid … mostly when I’m gettin’ paid.”

That’s self-revelatory dialogue. Jayne is explaining his ethic, but it’s as full of holes a Swiss cheese.

The character of Josh Lyman had one of those in the first season of Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing.” Josh, as you may remember, is the toughest politico on the president’s senior staff. He is, in his way, capable of being as much a thug as Jayne Cobb. Someone calls him “hostile” and Josh reacts by saying, “I’m not hostile. (two beats) … I’m not randomly hostile. (a beat). I’m hostile when hostility is called for.”

See him working out, through dialogue, his true nature?

That’s brilliant dialogue.

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