Wednesday, October 16, 2013


New Book on Schedule!

It’s been a while since I blogged back in July. Basically, I’ve spent all this time finishing my latest novel, SEEDERS.  I handed it in a couple weeks ago to my editor and her changes should be coming in a couple of days.  So glad things are moving quickly!  I’m excited about this book and can’t wait to get it into the hands of my readers.

Turns out, this is a great time to get back to blogging.  Just got back from New York Comic Con  2013, where the cosplay was fabulous.  If you like to people-watch, this was the place to be.  In a ten-block radius of the Javits Center, there were wacky characters everywhere.  The streets looked truly bizarre, even for New York City.  
Of course, once we got inside the convention center, it was wall to wall nerd heaven…


Yes, I got to see a fake Spock and real Kirk, so the day started out great.  And of course I was starry eyed just being in the same room with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The only bad part of the day was not seeing The Walking Dead Panel.  I LOVE THE WALKING DEAD!


Apparently, people lined up at the door all night, raided the Main Stage first thing in the morning and camped out in the room until 6:30 that night to see Rick, Daryl, Glen and the rest.  Apparently the room is never cleared between panels so few have a chance of seeing the main attraction.  We got on line at about 4:30 when it was 2,000 people long and the ushers pretty much laughed at all of us thinking we’d actually get in. Okay, most were sympathetic, but my kids were crushed.
Thankfully, The Walking Dead producers saved the day by setting up a traveling museum a few blocks away.  I doubt many people knew about it, but we stumbled across it on the way to lunch.  There were a lot of props from the series, including Rick’s hat, Daryl’s crossbow, Merle’s hand, a casting of T-Dog and even the bloated guy in the well.
It wasn’t as good as seeing Norman Reedus in person, but it was the next best thing.


Sunday, July 14, 2013



I was trying to think of the best way to sum up my experience at ThrillerFest and it's pretty much this: I found my people.  This was my fourth year attending but it was the first time I got to know so many authors on a such a personal level, and we all agreed on one thing; no one knows writers like writers.  We love our friends and family, but authors are an odd bunch and the experiences we share are truly unique and not easily understood by those around us.  It's a theme I kept hearing over and over and now I know why most of the established writers at ThrillerFest have stayed close friends for so many years. 

The conference has also been a perfect vehicle for making sure that at least once a year, we can see each other, exchange ideas, talk about the ups and downs that are specific to the publishing world. I feel like many of the friendships I made will continue for years.  I was not able to attend the finale, the big banquet on Saturday, since I had a book signing in NJ, but these are some highlights of the last couple of days:

R.L. Stine, Goosebumps author at the evening cocktail party. Super-nice guy.

Friday night dinner at a delicious Indian restaurant, Bukhara Grill, with all the debut authors.

Douglas Preston and the Debuts all took a subway ride to the NYC's famous Mysterious Bookshop.

So many books.  Wish I had a library like this in my house.

 With author and friend, Kay Kendall.

 With author and friend Melissa Macgregor.

The illustrious Otto Penzler, publisher of the stars and owner of the bookstore, gave an inspirational talk.

 Ta-Da! Finally, the morning of the Debut Breakfast.  View from the dais as crowds start to gather.

This was our big moment.  Ready to give our one-minute speeches in front of hundreds of authors and fans as Steve Berry introduces us.


We got a standing ovation.  I'm all teary-eyed.

Back in the ThrillerFest bookstore, there are only 2 copies of my book left. I think I scared folks with my speech about killer ants invading the Grand Hyatt ballroom.

I had to rush off early for a book signing in Hackensack Saturday night, but I left ThrillerFest with a big grin on my face.  I cannot think of any other profession where a large and accomplished group of people will welcome you into their world, eager to help you get ahead. It was through ITW and ThrillerFest that I found my agent, and eventually was published. Since then, they have supported my career in every way possible.  I only hope I can pay it forward.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Thrill Every Minute


I swear this conference gets better every year.  Big names at the Grand Hyatt this time were Michael Connelly, Ann Rice, T. Jefferson Parker, Michael Palmer, R.L. Stine, Steve Berry and hordes of great authors that come back every year.  Between panels, workshops and parties, there just isn't a minute to breathe.   Here are some highlights:

This was the view from the Top of the Strand, where my publisher St. Martin's held their annual party. Strong drinks and nice folks


Fondue at Artisinal with some author friends.

Mostly they serve cheese and more cheese...

But we shared some other delicacies, like Octopus and this dish - you'll never guess what this is. Go on, guess?

Cocktail party was so much fun - here with Lee Child.

Right in between Michael Palmer and Catherine Coulter.

A real highlight was listening to Anne Rice interviewed by her son Christopher. They are hysterically funny.

Not a whole lot of time to blog about how fantabulous ThrillerFest has been, but this is an itty bitty slice of the last couple days.  Tonight all the debut authors go out for dinner and tomorrow is the big debut breakfast.  I'm so excited! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013



What a fascinating day I had at the FBI building thanks to the folks at ThrillerFest who arranged for a bunch of authors to go down there for a private workshop on organized crime, terrorism, cyber crime and other topics that make us drool.  They showed us evidence of past investigations, like the tire of the plane that crashed into the WTC and a gas can left from the first Trade Center bombing. As for the stereotypical FBI guy - tall, thin, buzz cut, black suit, dark glasses, computer-like mannerisms - it's mostly Hollywood hype. Some of these guys are true New-Yorkers and really funny.  I was fascinated by their descriptions of actual investigations. I can't give details, but we really got a taste of the criminals, their blunders, the money trail, murders. And the chase - helicopters, blood hounds, guns, bombs, teargas, a million dollars in the wall, a body in the trunk.  Graphic stuff that sent my author mind buzzing. 

Tomorrow is the first day of ThrillerFest, which is sure to be a blast. Four solid days of workshops, parties, lectures with some of the greatest authors in the world.  Check my blog over the next few days to see how things are going.

Monday, July 1, 2013



 Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your yard. Another destructive ant species is invading the United States.  The Crazy Ant arrived in the U.S. from Argentina in 2002 and since then they have practically overrun Texas and established colonies all over the Gulf States.

What makes these ants especially bothersome is not their bite or sting.  They are extremely attracted to electrical equipment, where they make their homes.  Picture this: Alice the Crazy Ant crawls into a computer, where her body creates a connection between the electrical contacts, shorting out the circuits and electrocuting Alice.  Immediately before death she releases an alarm pheromone that lures more ants inside, ready to fight.  The result is a shorted out computer filled with thousands of dead and angry ants. In Texas, these pests have already destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars in air conditioning units, farm equipment and home electronics such as computers and cell phones.  Their small size and tenaciousness allow them to fit anywhere, and they can invade the walls and basement of a home by the millions. 

This species, Nylanderia fulva, can’t be killed with over-the-counter bait traps and poisons, and the ants can only be controlled, not eliminated.  They reproduce like ‘crazy’ and can outnumber other species 100 to 1.  Check out the great shot below taken by fab insect photographer Alex Wild.

These aggressive little buggers don’t like to dig their own nests, so when they do head underground, it’s by invading other colonies, mostly larger ants with spacious tunnels.  In some states, the crazy ant has driven out fire ants – yes, the ones in The Colony.  This has some residents actually missing fire ants, which have a painful sting but don’t destroy their cell phones.  Isn’t nature amazing?

Friday, June 28, 2013



What a great time to start a blog. ThrillerFest is around the corner and my second novel is off to the publisher.

This next one is scary and suspenseful, with the most astounding science. This time I’m delving into plant intelligence, a concept that’s been around for 200 years but has recently exploded with new, scientifically-sound discoveries that have the field of plant biology abuzz.  

I stumbled upon this research last year and knew it would make a great book.  Studies that show plants feel empathy, irritability and even pain, and use all five senses; sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. For instance, a dodder plant is unable to make its own food through photosynthesis. It attacks  neighboring plants, using its sense of smell to choose the most succulent victim. Then it wraps itself around the plant several times and uses suckers to extract the nutrients like a vampire. A wild tobacco will differentiate between several insect snacking on its leaves, and releases toxins that are specific to each insect. A poplar tree that is being attacked by caterpillars can warn surrounding trees to start producing chemicals repellent to the herbivores. Certain orchids can mimic the odor, shape and color of female insects, attracting males that will try to mate with it, and in the process pollinating the flower.  Place an obstacle between a fence and a twisting vine, and the vine will grow towards the obstacle and circle around it, to reach the fence. 

My new novel is a veritable feast of plant mayhem, and all of it is based on true science that makes the story frighteningly possible. You can read all about it this spring when the book is released. Check my blog every now and then for updates on how the book is progressing, new discoveries in the world of plant biology and interviews with scientists behind the scenes. And if you've read my first novel, The Colony, you’ll find out why I got hooked on ants. 

For aspiring writers, I'll be offering advice on writing and publishing, and posting interviews with top authors of thrillers, horror and sci-fi.  So feel free to come back anytime for some book talk.  Leave a comment or drop me a line.