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?