Monthly Archives: January 2009

My weekend at BookMania

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending BookMania in Stuart, Florida for the Blake Library in Martin County. What a terrific festival! I saw familiar and friendly faces with Louis Bayard, James Swain, and DeLaune Michel (my cousin!), and made new friends in David Ebershoff, James Reese, Deborah Sharp, Diane Hammond and Rick Bragg. I learned that Karin Slaughter’s one of the funniest people on the planet. And I hit golf balls with Lisa Unger, who has the best outlook on writing.

Surrounded by talented and bestselling writers at these festivals, it can be tempting to start making comparisons: to wonder if you’re selling enough, if your books are in the front of enough stores, etc. Lisa reminded me that all of that is out of a writer’s control. The most we can do is to appreciate the gift we’ve been given, to be thankful for the opportunities we have to write, and to do the best we can to be better every day. So today I’m going to write with that in mind. So thanks, Lisa. You rock (except at golf).

What goes on in the kitchen at Outback Steakhouse?

First there was the news of the 2200 calorie blooming onion. Now the folks at “Eat this, not that” say that the worst fish entree in the country is Outback’s Atlantic Salmon:

“Outback Steakhouse Atlantic Salmon (9 oz)

  • 1,640 calories
  • ??? g fat (Outback refuses to disclose the full nutritional content of the food they’re serving you.)
  • ??? mg sodium

    There is no entrée in America as misleading as this frightening fish dish from Outback. Its description— — a “seasoned and grilled fillet with fresh steamed veggies” — sounds like textbook healthy eating, a nutritious island in a sea of steak and stuffed potatoes, but what emerges from the kitchen is a plate that packs more calories than 11 orders of onion rings from Burger King. What happens to the poor fish behind closed kitchen doors is anyone’s guess (bacon-grease bath? Melted-butter injections?), but the end result should be avoided at all costs. Add on a serving of bread and butter and a simple side salad, and you’re topping the charts at nearly 2,300 calories.”

  • I have a sudden craving for Burger King onion rings. I hear they have less than 10 percent the calories of grilled salmon and steamed veggies.

    Latest Online Distraction = Book Titles!

    As you may know, I have been struggling with book titles this week. Thanks in large part to many of you, I have some good lies/secrets options (see previous post), but am now trying to think of something more concrete. Of course, I’ve managed to use this as just another excuse to surf the net. Did you know there are computer programs online that generate book titles? They’re pretty fun. Play with them here and here.

    Tomorrow I’m off to BookMania in Stuart, Florida. My panel (6 pm on Saturday) includes Karin Slaughter, Lisa Unger, James Swain, Hallie Ephron, and Deborah Sharp. Last time I saw Karin S, she whooped my butt at bowling so it’ll be nice just to talk about books this time. Hope to see some of you there.

    Help Me Brainstorm!

    So I know I’ve been playing close to the vest about the next book, but it’s another Ellie Hatcher novel, and its working title has for the last few months been Lie to Me. Good title, right? Well, apparently FOX TV thought so too and beat me to the punch with this TV show. I had hoped it wouldn’t be a problem. After all, there was Cold Case the show and Cold Case the novel by Kate Willhelm, and no one seemed confused. But the Man remains unpersuaded. (OK, so in this case, the Man happens to me my editor, who is neither male nor oppressive, but whatever…I need a new title.)

    I’m still playing close to the vest of the plot but I will tell you it’s about lies and secrets. How’s that? So what’s got the same feel as Lie to Me? Here are some possibilities I’ve come up with: Tell Me Lies, Half Truths, Keeping Secrets, A Secret Kept. But I bet you guys can do even better. What do you think? Even if I don’t use your suggestions, the brainstorming will get the juices flowing. And if I do use your title, I’ll of course acknowledge you in the notes and send you a free copy. Brainstorm away, por favor.

    More Reviews for Angel’s Tip

    The Tri-Parish Times in Louisiana says, “Burke proves again in her fifth novel that she can hold her own with her famous father James Lee in creating memorable characters… This one is straight out of today’s headlines and will keep you guessing to the end.”

    And Patricia at Goodreads says “Angel’s Tip is so full of suspense you won’t want to stop reading.”

    New York Public Library panel on January 14

    On Tuesday, January 14, I’ll have the pleasure of serving on a panel with Linda Fairstein (oodles of respect for her!) and Wendy Corsi Staub. The panel is called “Scaring Women: Creating Nail-Biting Tension in Women’s Suspense,” and will be moderated by Jane Cleland. Count on me to challenge the notion that there should even be a sub-genre of book labeled Women’s Suspense. I

    hope to see the New York crowd in person. The panel starts at 6:30 pm on the 6th floor of the Mid-Manhattan library at 40th Street and 5th Avenue. Read more about the panel here.

    Day 4 in Phoenix

    We’re on Day 4 in Phoenix.  Other than my fear that we both caught colds on the airplane here, it has been a good vacation.  We’ve golfed twice already and will do so again today.  (Scores so far: a 90 and a 98.  Maybe today I’ll be somewhere in between.)  We also saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which I highly recommend.  It reminded me of Forrest Gump.  (It also reminded me of how hot the young Brad Pitt was.)  Here’s proof that we’ve been golfing (and that we shouldn’t own a video recorder).

    Happy Anniversary!

    Today is our third anniversary. Tradition calls for the exchange of presents made from leather. Insert joke here. Surely a sign that I never quite grew up, I have found myself singing this old gem throughout the day: