Category Archives: Writing

Anthology Release Day–Times Two

Though I spent most of the day at home with two sick kids, out in the great wide publishing world, I had two anthology releases today: one expected and one surprise.

First up was the trade paperback release of Crimes by Moonlight, the MWA-sponsored anthology edited by the fabulous Charlaine Harris.

The stories are all mysteries with a supernatural or paranormal twist. My story is “Taking the Long View,” which is the second mystery featuring my vampire couple Mark and Stella. (They were first introduced in “How Stella Got Her Grave Back,” which appeared in Many Bloody Returns.) I’m delighted to be in a collection with so many amazing writers. Just check out this list of contributors:

Now that release has been scheduled for some time. The other anthology I’m in as of today came about much more quickly. On March 1, the amazing Carla Coupe asked if I’d be interested in contributing a story to an electronic anthology she was putting together for Wildside Press. Since she wanted a previously published story, on March 8 I sent her a couple that had been published in anthologies that were no longer in print. She accepted one of them on March 9, and sent along a contract. And now, just over a month later, The Mystery Megapack: 25 Modern and Classic Tales by Masters has already been released.

I didn’t know it was going to be out today until Google Alerts alerted me, and I certainly didn’t know my name was going to be on the cover.

My story is “Security Blanket,” about a volunteer security manager at a science fiction convention who isn’t sure she’s up to the job. When one of the other security volunteers dies, it’s up to Regina to find out what happened. (It was originally published in Riptide: Crime Stories by New England Writers, published by Level Best Book.)

Once again, I’m keeping some excellent company. The other contributors are:

Yes, I know that’s only 22 names, but one of the authors has 3 stories in the anthology, and then there’s me.

While it’s always fun to be in a collection with contemporary writers I admire, I find it amazingly cool to be in the same collection as the creators of Zorro, Father Brown, Fu Manchu, and Jules de Grandin.

So while I’m at home trying to keep sick children happy, my stories are out there doing my job for me. What more can a writer–or mother–ask for?

Doing the Dance of Joy!

So it’s a gray, rainy day in Massachusetts, and my younger daughter is home sick, and my husband is traveling, and I started the day feeling mighty glum. Then I got an e-mail from the amazing Joanne Sinchuk at the almost-as-amazing mystery bookstore Murder on the Beach. The store had just posted its bestseller list from March, and if you go to the very bottom of the trade/mass market list, there I am! Well technically, my book is there, but you get the idea.

Here’s the whole glorious list:

1. Live Wire by Harlan Coben, Putnam, 27.95
2. Someone’s Watching by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 25.95
3. Night Vision by Randy Wayne White, Putnam, 25.95
4. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey, Harper-Collins, 24.99
5. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford, Harper-Collins, 24.99
6. Devil Wind by Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid, Oceanview, 25.95
7. Silent Mercy by Linda Fairstein, Putnam, 26.95
8. Delirious by Daniel Palmer, Kensington, 25.00
9. Heartbeat Away by Michael Palmer, St. Martins, 27.99
10. Free Range Institution by Michael Haskins, Five Star, 25.95

Trade/Mass Market

1. In Their Blood by Sharon Potts, Oceanview, 15.00
2. Angel’s Verdict by Mary Stanton, Berkley, 7.99
3. Reckless by Andrew Gross, Harper-Collins, 9.99
4. Illegal by Paul Levine, Random House, 7.99
5. Caught by Harlan Coben, Berkley, 9.99
6. Hell Gate by Linda Fairstein, Berkley, 9.99
7. Murder on the High Seas by Carol Cope, Berkley, 7.99
8. Money to Burn by James Grippando, Harper-Collins, 9.99
9. The Teaberry Strangler by Laura Childs, Berkley, 7.99
10. Blast from the Past by Toni Kelner, Berkley, 6.99

Amazingly, the day now looks a whole lot brighter!

Table of Contents for Home Improvement: Undead Edition

I know I posted the contributors for the forthcoming Charlaine Harris-and-me anthology Home Improvement: Undead Edition, but I don’t think I ever put up the final table of contents. So here it is, to tantalize you until our August release date. I’m mean that way. But to keep me from being a total meanie, I’ll add a few hints about the stories and/or authors.

“If I Had a Hammer” by Charlaine Harris
Yes, it is a Sookie story.

“Wizard Home Security” by Victor Gischler
At one point, I e-mailed Victor to ask about something, and he responded that Marvel was slamming him with X-Men deadlines. I have been an X-Men fan for years, and I squee-ed as loud as Havok yells when I got that note. (You have to be a fellow X-Men fan to get that reference.)

“Gray” by Patricia Briggs
Not werewolves or shapeshifters this time–vampires!

“Squatters’ Rights” by Rochelle Krich
I don’t even know how to describe this one. But it’s delightfully creepy!

“Blood on the Wall” by Heather Graham
Heather gives us nasty murders in New Orleans, cultists, and a PI with strong family feelings.

“The Mansion of Imperatives” by James Grady
Yes, this is the James Grady who wrote Six Days of the Condor. When I told my father he was going to be in the anthology, he squee-ed. In a manly way, of course.

“The Strength Inside” by Melissa Marr
Don’t you just hate home owner associations?

“Woolsley’s Kitchen Nightmare” by E. E. Knight
It’s hard work putting the perfect dining experience together.

“Through This House” by Seanan McGuire
Yes, it’s a Toby Daye story!

“The Path” by S. J. Rozan
Nobody writes about China like S.J!

“Rick the Brave” Stacia Kane
How can a guy named Terrible be such a wonderful character? And Chess is there, too.

“Full-Scale Demolition” Suzanne McLeod
Suzanne has published three of her amazing Spellcrack books in the UK, but so far only one is out in the US. You’ll want to buy it.

“It’s All in the Rendering” by Simon R. Green
Some houses have doors on both sides–and some Houses open onto more than one world.

“In Brightest Day” by Toni L.P. Kelner
In which I exploit the hitherto neglected sub-genre of zombie mysteries.

That’s all you get until August! But unlike most construction projects, this one should be on time.


I have a love/hate relationship with reviews. Which is to say that I love positive ones, and hate negative ones. That is, of course, when the books being reviewed are mine. It’s not an objective or adult attitude, but it is what it is. I have similar reactions to reviews of friends’ work–I don’t pretend to be objective about those, either.

So in that spirit, here are links to some of the positive reviews that have been posted for Blast from the Past. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll tell you that I’m not linking to the negative ones–you can google the title with my name and get those. (Be sure to add Kelner as a search delimiter because there was a movie called Blast from the Past and of course, it’s not an unusual expression, so without the Kelner, you’ll get insane numbers of hits.)

Thanks to the reviewers who liked the book well enough to post positive reviews. As for the folks who didn’t like it, I appreciate your giving it a try and I’m sorry it wasn’t to your taste. But I’m still not linking to your review.

Easter Egg Hunting

Yesterday was the official release date of Blast from the Past, the third of my “Where are they now?” series, which is always a happy event.

Normally I make a point of visiting a bookstore on Release Day to see the new arrival on the shelves, much as you’d go to the maternity ward and peek through the window at a newborn baby, but the weekly snowstorm up here in Massachusetts meant I couldn’t make it this time.

Here’s a shot out my back door, which shows why I decided to wait until later in the week. Or possibly next month.

That is a full-sized swing set, by the way, just to give you a sense of scale. So on the whole, I think it’s better to stay home for the day. And while I’m here, I thought I’d take y’all on an Easter egg hunt.

No, not a real one, because (1) it’s the wrong time of year and (2) the eggs would sink into the snow and not be found until July, given the way the weather has been. The kind of Easter egg I’m talking about are the private jokes hidden in my books and stories.

I confess that I have a weakness for inserting Easter eggs. In “An Unmentionable Crime,” which was set in a lingerie store, all the characters are named for people known for their connection to underwear: a man named Fredericks as in Fredericks of Hollywood, a woman named Vicki as in Victoria’s Secret, and so on. In both “Marley’s Ghost” and Mad as the Dickens, it’s Dickens character names, and in “Lying-in-the-Road Death,” characters are named for types of whiskey. (I was surprised by how many kinds of whiskey there are!)

I put in these private jokes because (1) they make me giggle and (2) I think they’re fun for readers who notice them. But I allow myself to do this if, and only if, it doesn’t distract or detract from the story.

Normally I don’t even tell anybody about them, but since I’m snowbound anyway, here are some of the Easter eggs in Blast from the Past. (And don’t worry–there will be no spoilers.)

  • The action star Tilda interviews at the beginning of the book is John Laryea, who is named for three of the leads in The Bugaloos. (You don’t remember the show that describes as “a rock-n-roll band with bug wings who live in a magical forest.”?)  I.Q and Courage were played by men named John–John McIndoe and John Philpott–and Harmony was played by Wayne Laryea.

  • The fictional Laryea got his start in a kids’ TV show called The Blastoffs, in which was about a pair of  brothers named Sid and Marty Blastoff. Sid and Marty Krofft are best known as the producers of a number of  kiddie shows, including H.R. Pufnstuf, Land of the Lost, and The Bugaloos. (And a tip o’ the hat to Bill Crider, who recognized that pair of names and mentioned them in his review of Blast from the Past.)
  • One thing I do in the Tilda books is to put epigraphs in front of every chapter, pulling snippets from books, web sites, and all kinds of sources. The thing is, not all of those sources actually exist. In Blast from the Past, I quotefrom Teenage Mutant Ninja Artists: The Best of Indie Comics by Jerry Frazee and  Saturday Morning Spree by Charles M. Luce. Neither book is real. The guys are real, more or less, and I drew on their expertise in comic books in researching the book. So I stuck them in as a real cheap thank-you present. By the way, in addition to being good friends of mine, both Jerry and Charles (who goes by Mike) are extremely talented artists and I’ve got plenty of work by both of them hung in my house. Just check out those links for a sample.
  • One of the producers of Pharos, the movie John Laryea is filming, is Joni Langevoort. The character is fictional, but there really is a Joni Langevoort, who I met via the convention Malice Domestic. Malice has a charity auction each year, and twice Joni has paid for the right of naming a character in one of my books. The first time, in Curse of the Kissing Cousins, I named a gospel singer after her daughter Katie. This time was Joni’s turn. (By the way, Joni’s name is misspelled in the acknowledgements for Blast from the Past, which was my mistake, but her name is correct in the text.)

That’s just a sample of what I hid in the book–I spent most of a year writing it, so there was plenty of time to sneak stuff in. I could tell you more, but I think it quit snowing and sleeting. Maybe I’ll make it to a bookstore to see the new book after all!

The New Arrival

It’s always a happy day when I get to hold my new book in my hand. In this case, it was an early copy of Blast from the Past, which will be out February 2. (Groundhog Day… There’s a joke in there somewhere, and I promise to discover it and then share it before the big day.)

In the meantime, here’s me holding proudly. I even took it out to lunch to celebrate. (We took our pal Dana Cameron with us, too, just to liven things up.)

So tomorrow I’ll be hunkering in the house, hiding from a raging blizzard, but I’ll be happy because I’ll have my new book to hold onto.

Bon jour!

The other day I stumbled across the cover of the French edition of Crimes by Moonlight, the MWA anthology edited by Charlaine Harris. Or if you’ll excuse my French, Crimes au clair de lune.

This is way exciting for me because the anthology includes my story “Taking the Long View” making this my first appearance in French.

I do love the idea of my stuff being read elsewhere in the world. Not including my French debut, I’ve had stories or novels translated into German, Polish, and Italian. There are also UK editions of some of Charlaine’s and my anthologies, but I don’t think there was a lot of translating involved.

I do, however, worry about the translations. I mean, I can’t read French and I have no idea how they’ve translated my vision of vampires and bad jokes–two strong themes in “Taking the Long View.”

With the Laura Fleming novels, I’d have been worried about Southernisms, and with the “Where are they now?” series, I worry about the references to old American TV shows.

At least I know the Italian translation of Curse of the Kissing Cousins came out well. Or, if you prefer, Cugini Maledetti, published by Delos Books.

My husband works for an international company, and Duccio Alberti, one of his Italian colleagues, actually took the trouble to read both versions. Grazie Duccio!

If there are any bilingual readers out there, I’d love to find out if the other translations have been decent. In the meantime, I’ll just shelve those foreign editions and try to look linguistically sophisticated.

Damn Near Dead 2

I’ve been so intent on catching folks up on upcoming projects that I neglected to mention an awfully nifty project I was involved in last year. In November, Busted Flush Press released Damn Near Dead 2: Live Noir or Die Trying, edited by the illustrious Bill Crider.

As people who’ve read my work know, I don’t usually hang with the noir crowd, but when Bill invited me to submit a story to this book of “geezer noir,” I couldn’t resist giving it a try. I drew inspiration from my grandfather, who was devoted to Finch’s Restaurant in Raleigh, NC. And by devoted, I mean he ate breakfast there every weekday and many weekends for as far back as I can remember. He knew every waitress, and though the owners changed a couple of times over the years, Granddaddy’s order never did. (Two eggs, over easy, dry toast, and streak-o-lean.) My parents have a similar relationship with Skyland in Charlotte, NC.  I drew on both places to come up with my story “Kids Today.”

As you can see, artist Jeff Wong created a dynamite cover, and the stories inside are pretty darned good, too.  Just check out the table of contents:

“Sleep, Creep, Leap” by Patti Abbott
“El Conejo” by Ace Atkins
“Stiffs” by Neal Barrett, Jr.
“The End of Jim and Ezra” by C. J. Box
“Out Stealing Buddha” by Declan Burke
“Love Story” by Scott Cupp
“All About Eden” by Christa Faust
“Flying Solo” by Ed Gorman
“Neighborhood Watch” by Carolyn Haines
“Memory Sketch” by David Handler
“Some Things You Never Forget” by Gar Anthony Haywood
“The War Zone” by Cameron Pierce Hughes
“You’re Only Dead Once” by Dean James
“The Sleeping Detective” by Jennifer Jordan
“Kids Today” by Toni L.P. Kelner
“The Old Man in the Motorized Chair” by Joe R. Lansdale
“Angel of Mercy” by Russel McLean
“Miss Hartly and the Cocksucker” by Denise Mina
“Sometimes You Can’t Retire” by Marcia Muller
“The Investor” by Gary Phillips
“Bill in Idaho” by Scott Phillips
“Zypho the Tentacled Brainsucker from Outer Space vs. the Mob” by Tom Piccirilli
“Trade Secret” by Bill Pronzini
“The Summer Place” by Cornelia Read
“Warning Shot” by James Reasoner
“Cutlass” by Kat Richardson
“Chin Yong-Yun Takes the Case” by S.J. Rozan
“Granny Pussy” by Anthony Neil Smith
“Old Men and Old Boards” by Don Winslow

Sadly, this was one of the last projects from the late David Thompson, who founded Busted Flush. But I recently learned that his wife McKenna Jordan will be taking over the reins, and I think that David would be proud to know that.

Cover Girl!

Another upcoming book I’m excited about is the August release of The Wild Side, edited by Mark L. Van Name. It’s an urban fantasy anthology with an erotic edge, and it includes my story “For a Good Time, Call…”

This week, I got my first look at the cover and there has been much rejoicing.

First off, as you can see, it’s a dynamite cover.  The artist is Dan Dos Santos, and he’s just terrific.

But what really got me squeeing in delight was seeing my name on the cover. I’ve never had my name on the front of an anthology, other than my own, and it’s really a thrill.

I’ve only read my story and Dana Cameron’s, but from this list of writers, I think it’s going to be a winner.

Tanya Huff

Gina Massel-Castater

Toni L.P. Kelner

Diana Rowland

Sarah A. Hoyt

Ticia Drake Isom

Dana Cameron

John Lambshead

Mark L. Van Name

Caitlin Kitterege

The Wild Side will be a trade paperback release from Baen, and I imagine electronic versions will spring forth wildly as well. I will warn people that this is not a child-friendly book. My own story is the most graphic thing I’ve ever published, and writing it was a new experience for me.

Home Improvement: Undead Edition

In August I put on my editor hat once again for the release of Home Improvement: Undead Edition, the fourth anthology edited by NYT bestseller and overall nifty person Charlaine Harris and myself. This time the theme is the horrors of home renovations, a daunting prospect even for vampires, werewolves, and demonic sorts.

We’ve got another stellar lineup of authors:

Patricia Briggs

Victor Gischler

James Grady

Heather Graham

Simon R. Green

Charlaine Harris

Stacia Kane

Toni L.P. Kelner

E.E. Knight

Rochelle Krich

Melissa Marr

Seanan McGuire

Suzanne McLeod

S.J. Rozan

And did I mention that Lisa Desimini has created yet another outstanding cover illustration?

Here’s a secret about the cover. It was actually completed before we handed in the final draft of the manuscript–once again, I may have been a touch late on my deadline–and my contribution was inspired by the illustration. I mean, doesn’t that look like a zombie hand to you?

Home Improvement: Undead Edition will be a hardcover release from Ace, and Ace will be releasing various electronic formats at the same time for you Kindle, Nook, and iPad users. (And quite possibly for gadgets I don’t know about yet!)