The Hidden Secret in My Cover Art*

Cover art can make or break a novel, but for the traditionally published author, this critical facet of the work is often totally out of the author’s control.  Sometimes, that results in a horror story complete with tears and terror. In my case, it resulted in an unexpected gift.  When I signed my contract with Minotaur Books, I accepted that the cover art was out of my control. I made a decision: whatever my cover looked like, I would love it.  I told myself so over and over … “you’ll love the cover, whatever it looks like,” and yet, some fear

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Hello Hungary – and Print it Large!

 Helló, Magyarország! Örülök, hogy találkoztunk! Or, for those of you with rusty Hungarian – Hello, Hungary! Nice to meet you! Last week, I received fantastic news: we’ve sold the Hungarian translation rights to Claws of the Cat, and a Hungarian edition of the novel is coming soon! Note: that isn’t Hungarian, and the book will probably have a new cover, but let’s pretend it’s Hungarian for now. I’m also pleased to announce that Thorndike Press has just released a large print edition of Claws of the Cat as part of Thorndike’s Reviewers’ Choice series. The large print edition is available (or can be ordered) online, from

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Hello, San Francisco – and a Shiny New BLADE

I’m in San Francisco this afternoon (September 26, 2013)! If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll join me at 6pm at Book Passage on Fisherman’s Wharf (1 Ferry Building, San Francisco) for a reading and signing from the first Shinobi Mystery, Claws of the Cat! But that’s not all – I’ve got more exciting Shinobi Mystery news. The second Shinobi Mystery, Blade of the Samurai, will release on July 15, 2014, and is now available for pre-order! Check with your local or online book retailer for more details, and watch this space for more news as the date approaches!

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Hello, Denver!

I hope all of you in the Denver area will join me one week from tonight at the Tattered Cover Bookstore on Colfax for a reading and signing of CLAWS OF THE CAT! More details: Denver, CO: Monday, September 16, 2013: 7:30 PM Reading & Signing: Tattered Cover Bookstore 2526 East Colfax Avenue Denver, CO 80206 Map Link Although I don’t live in Denver, I love the city itself and the supportive writing community that flourishes in and around it. Many (if not most!) of my writing friends live in and around Denver, and I look forward to my annual

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What’s in a Name? Sometimes, Confusion.

I’m continuing my “fact from fiction” series today with a look at samurai naming conventions and why they caused me a little trouble in CLAWS OF THE CAT. Most samurai received and used several names in the course of a lifetime. The childhood name was given at birth and used until the samurai completed his genpuku, the coming-of-age ceremony during which a samurai male received his swords and his adult name. In addition, samurai children often answered to various nicknames, either personal (like the ones we use for our children now) or numeric and based on the child’s age and

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Tasty Summer Reads: Claws of the Cat

Thanks to fellow historical fiction author Kim Rendfeld (author of THE CROSS AND THE DRAGON) for tagging me in the Tasty Summer Reads Blog Hop! Here’s how it works: Each participating author invites other authors to answer five questions about their current summer release or work in progress and also post a tasty recipe that ties into the book. I’ve linked to all of the other participating authors, and my unwitting victims friends at the end of this post. Before we get to the questions, here’s a little more about my current release, CLAWS OF THE CAT: A Shinobi Mystery

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Fact from Fiction: Shinobi vs Ninja

At signings, I’m often asked why I refer to my ninja detective, Hattori Hiro (or Hiro Hattori to those who put surnames last), as a “shinobi” instead of a “ninja.” The answer is simple: the two are one and the same. Many Japanese words are written using Kanji, or characters, originally borrowed from Chinese. In Japanese, the word many English speakers pronounce as “ninja” looks like this: The Chinese pronunciation of those characters is “nin sha” – from which the English language derives the word “ninja.” That pronunciation is used in Japan, but more often, the Japanese pronounce those characters

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Hello, Pleasanton!

One of the greatest joys of publication is having the opportunity to meet and talk with readers and other bibliophiles. If you’re in the area, and have the time, I hope you’ll join me today for a reading and signing at Towne Center Books in Pleasanton, CA. I’d love to meet you there. Pleasanton, CA: Tuesday, July 30, 2013: 11:00 AM Reading & Signing: Towne Center Books 555 Main Street Pleasanton, CA 94566 Map Link

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Ninja Detectives: Fact from Fiction

When writing historical mystery novels, an author needs to straddle the line between fact and fiction. When the novel involves a ninja detective, that line can grow very thin indeed. By the 16th century, shinobi (ninja) clans held significant power in Japan. Assassins were feared and respected even by powerful samurai warlords, and the myth of the ninja already included “abilities” like the power to turn to smoke by force of will. In truth, shinobi were as human as anyone else–though highly trained in stealth and covert tactics as well as weapons skills. For those who want to know more,

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Engineering an Alternate Reality…With Ninjas!

Please join me at Tammy Salyer–Alternative Reality Engineer, where I’m explaining why it took me half a million words to learn how to make a “one-shot kill,” and why I believe any author can succeed, provided he or she has the fortitude to keep on putting one word after the other. For those who don’t already know her, Tammy is the author of the SPECTRAS ARISE trilogy, a fantastic military science fiction series featuring former space marine turned smuggler Aly Erickson. I’ve read, and loved, both CONTRACT OF DEFIANCE and the sequel, CONTRACT OF BETRAYAL, and am eagerly awaiting the

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