Friday, January 25, 2008

Reflections on a dynamite year

Breaking News!!!

I'm the guest author today over at the Bookends Literary agency's blog. Stop by for a visit at

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog....

It’s been a year to die for.

Okay, so it hasn’t exactly been a whole year since my first book was published.

DYING TO BE THIN, the first novel in the Fat City Mysteries series, hatched a little more than three months ago. Maybe it’s because I just wrapped up Book 2, A KILLER WORKOUT, and immediately dove into writing Book 3, FINAL CUT, that I’m feeling in a reflective mode.

(Full disclosure: DYING TO BE THIN wasn’t my very first book. I wrote four Young Adult girl-detective novels under a nationally known pseudonym. But if a book is published in the forest, and it doesn’t carry your name on it, are you really “published”? Good question.)

I was extremely lucky that DYING TO BE THIN became an IMBA Bestseller in its first month. For that, I owe a big debt of gratitude to the independent booksellers, who know their customers and hand sell the books that they think their readers will enjoy.

Readers say the nicest things

I’ve met so many wonderful readers at signings, and received enthusiastic emails about the book through my web site. Many people have written to say that they identify with my sleuth, reporter Kate Gallagher, and her eternal Battle of the Bulge.

Of course, not all the feedback is wonderful. I recently had my first “flame” review over at Amazon, from a woman who felt personally offended that the cast of characters included heavy people, and thought my heroine was snarky—which, come to think of it, she is. Because this Dear Reader managed to cast personal aspersions on me as well as on the book, Amazon quickly removed the review.

The show must go on

Last Saturday, I took part in a panel called “Sassy Sleuths” with authors Patricia Smiley, Sue Ann Jaffarian, and Harley Jane Kozak, hosted by Gayle Bartos-Pool. We were presenting the topic in conjunction with Sisters in Crime Los Angeles (and of course, we were hoping to sell a few books).

The panel took place at a wonderful independent bookstore called Vroman’s in Pasadena, CA.

There was a good-sized crowd, and things were going along swimmingly—until the lights and power went out, and everyone had to evacuate the building.

We reconvened outside, and the show went on, despite sirens screaming in the background and helicopters circling overhead. (I heard later that the meltdown was caused by a fire at a Taco Bell down the street).

The show must go on II

Another time, I had a signing scheduled, but woke up that morning feeling sick, and getting sicker by the minute. But I was determined not to pull a last-minute cancellation.

Twenty minutes before the signing was supposed to start, I was sitting in the car with my husband, projectile vomiting into a plastic bag. I made an emergency call to a friend of mine to appear at the table with me, in case I had to make a sudden dash to the ladies room.

The appearance went off flawlessly. I had a surge of adrenaline that magically suspended the illness for precisely one hour. The instant I got back into the car after the signing, I resumed vomiting, and continued do so, all the way to Urgent Care.

Writing is a full-time job

It felt slightly surreal this week when I opened a file and started Book 3 in the Fat City Mystery series, FINAL CUT. (A tale of murder and plastic surgery). Some of the people I started writing with, years ago at UCLA Extension writing classes, have yet to finish their first books. The fact that I’ve made it to Book 3 drove home the point that writing has to be an every day, many-hour occupation—even if you have a full time job, as I do. I get up in the wee hours of the morning, write until 8 a.m., then start my day as an editor. Every weekend, every vacation, you’ll find me tapping away before the cock crows.

But it’s so worth it.

Vegas, baby!

Today, I'm hopping on a plane to Las Vegas, where I'll be appearing on Amie Jo Greer's radio show, called Corner4Success with Amie Jo on KLAV, 1230 AM. You can listen to her show on

Then on Saturday, I'll be meeting folks and signing books in Las Vegas at a great new bookstore called Cheesecake and Crime, at four p.m. Check my web site for details.


Camille Minichino said...

Speaking of LA ... a few of us from NorCal are trying to get there for a luncheon tomorrow in Cerritos!
The wonderful organizers have done everything but get the Grapevine open for us ... more on this next week.

I'm glad your year and your book were so successful Kathryn ... well deserved!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...


You're a wonder. Totally amazing. It's well-deserved and couldn't happen to a nicer person.

ellen said...

Oooohh, Final Cut. Now that is a title!

Kathryn Lilley said...

Thanks, Ellen et al!