Wednesday, November 30, 2016

STRANGER THAN FICTION?


Gayle Lynds:  How do you know whether what you’re reading in a novel is fact or fiction?  Right now, in this very moment, I’ll bet you remember that the grand old Mississippi River flows south through the U.S.’s midsection, pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.  Would you be surprised if I told you that in some authors’ spy books, real-life rivers flow in the wrong direction, international commercial jets land in small regional airports, and sound suppressors are screwed onto revolvers?  Seriously.

In my second spy thriller, Mosaic, my heroine is blind, regains her sight, but then loses it again.  Sound like a lie?  Probably, if you haven’t heard of shell shock, or battle fatigue, or conversion disorder.  All refer to the same illness, in which a patient “converts” a terrible psychological trauma into a physical symptom.  Blindness is at the top of the list.  Can you guess what the treatment is?  And it’s all true.

In my third espionage novel, Mesmerized, my heroine has a heart transplant and apparently inherits tastes, ideas, even memories from her donor, a former KGB officer.  Unbelievable, right?  Not completely, not according to the growing scientific studies backing it up. 

Then there’s the real-life global race to create the world’s first molecular — or DNA — computer, forging an unprecedented bond between life science and computational science.  I wrote about that in The Paris Option.  Imagine a computer so fast it’ll break any code or encryption in seconds.  All of America’s missiles, NSA’s secret systems, NRO’s spy satellites, the entire ability of the navy to operate, all defense plans, our electric grids . . . anything and everything that relies on electronics would be at the mercy of the first molecular computer.  Not even the largest silicon supercomputer would be able to stop it. 

Oh, the grandeur of unusual ideas woven into an adventure story.  Sigh of pleasure. 

But this fascination of mine means I’ve failed in today’s assigned task. . . .  For Rogue Women’s next series of blogs, we’re writing about “Stranger Than Fiction: What we’ve discovered in our research that’s so weird we can’t use it in a book.”

My problem is that if I can’t use it, I forget it.  But at the same time, when I stumble on research that seems to me particularly juicy and challenging, it lingers in my mind, niggling, enticing.  For instance, did you know there’s a spectrum in sociopathy among stone-cold killers?  And did you know one of the most difficult characteristics to hide consistently is a person’s walk?  Those two ideas are fundamental to my most recent spy thriller, The Assassins.

Hmm.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about . . .  No, no.  Although some might find it strange, I think that’s going into my next book.  Back to work!

What item or items have you found that are truly stranger than fiction?”

Monday, November 28, 2016

GIVING THANKS

by Christine Goff

Rogue Women Writers at ThrillerFest
With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays fast approaching, I want to take time out to say how grateful I am for my fellow Rogue Women. Writing is at times a lonely business, and it's even lonelier when you're a woman writing espionage and political thrillers. In a genre dominated by men, its true there is strength in numbers. I'm thrilled to be counted among them!

The best news is—everyone has great books out, available for holiday gift-giving!

Gayle Lynds is not only a New York Times bestselling author, she is one of the most generous and genuine women you will ever meet. We first met bobbing around the Biltmore pool at the inaugural ThrillerFest, held in '06 in Phoenix, Arizona. I was published in traditional mystery, but wanted to transition thrillers. I will never forget how she helped me brainstorm that day, or mentored me over the years, or how she stepped right up and offered to read my book for a cover quote. The Associated Press aptly called her "a master of the Modern Cold War spy thriller." Her latest novel, THE ASSASSINS came out in hardcover and e-book in 2015, but the paperback just hit the stands in June.

Former spy Judd Ryder is walking home when he spots a man wearing his clothes and who looks just like him. Moments later the imposter is killed in a vicious hit-and-run that’s no accident. Was the double the intended victim, or Judd himself?

Karna Small Bodman is always quick to step up and pitch in to help in the success of Rogue Women Writers, and she's a tremendous resource for Washington "insider" information. Her books are inspired by the six years she served in the White House, first as Deputy Press Secretary, and later as Senior Director and Spokesman for the National Security Council where she was the highest-ranking woman on the White House staff. As Nelson DeMille said, her work is "frightening with the crystal ring of truth." Her latest novel, CASTLE BRAVO, deals with a threat to national security that was and still is very real.

White House Director of Homeland Security, Samantha Reid, receives intelligence about a possible new threat to the country's national security: a hostile enemy intends to detonate a small nuclear device over the U.S. that would literally send shock waves across the country, knocking out the electricity grid and setting us back to the year 1910!

Jamie Freveletti has taught me a lot about the business end of writing—something for which my husband is eternally grateful. This Barry award winning and internationally bestselling author of the Emma Caldridge series, Jamie also writes for the Estate of Robert Ludlum's Covert One series, is smart, creative and often the voice of reason. According to Book Reporter.com, her "grasp of fast-action suspense and understanding of international politics, as well as martial arts combat training, brings real-life action to a continuance of Robert Ludlum's original creations." It's high praise for her latest novel, THE GENEVA STRATEGY.

On one evening in Washington, DC, several high-ranking members of government disappear in a mass kidnapping, including Nick Rendel, a computer software coding expert in charge of drone programming and strategy. Armed with his knowledge, the kidnappers could reprogram drones to strike targets within the United States.

Francine Mathews has been a friend for—well, a really long time! When our children were little, we lived in the same small mountain town and our kids attended the same school. Several years before we met, I had discovered her Nantucket Mystery series and fell in love with her writing. She has always been supportive, encouraging and she sets the bar high--inspiring me to be a better writer. A former intelligence analyst at the CIA, she brings an authenticity to her work that is beyond compare. Her Nantucket series is being re-released, while her latest standalone, TOO BAD TO DIE, received a starred review in Publisher's Weekly and was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice pick.

November, 1943. Weary of his deskbound status in the Royal Navy, intelligence officer Ian Fleming spends his spare time spinning stories in his head that are much more exciting than his own life…until the critical Tehran Conference, when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Josef Stalin meet to finalize the D-Day invasion.

Sonja Stone writes the kind of books I wish were around when I was a young adult. I feasted on Nancy Drew before graduating to Agatha Christie and Helen MacInnes, but Sonja's book DESERT DARK is totally kick-ass. And Sonja is the most daring of us all. To get her facts right, she attended survival school (the same one where Tom Hanks prepared for Cast Away. While there she learned to throw knives, fire guns and navigate the desert—all while raising two covert agents masquerading as teenagers. She's my hero!

Blacklisted by her ex-boyfriend, sixteen-year-old Nadia Riley transfers to an elite boarding school hidden deep in the Sonoran Desert. Turns out, it's a top-secret training facility for the Black-Ops Division of the CIA. When she's framed for treason, Nadia's situation takes a deadly turn: the real double agent will stop at nothing to remain concealed—including an attempt on Nadia's life.

K.J. Howe has to be the most organized of all of us. She not only is launching her debut thriller, THE FREEDOM BROKER, in February, but she is the Executive Director of ThrillerFest and RWW's liaison to all thing tchotchke—hats, mugs—and she knows everybody! #1 New York Times Bestseller James Patterson says, "THE FREEDOM BROKER combines terrific thriller writing and fascinating research about hostage rescues. This is fact and fiction at its best." I couldn't agree more. This book is out in February, but it's available for pre-orders.

There are 25 elite professionals who travel undercover to the deadliest spots in the world to bring hostages home safely by any means necessary. Only one of those 25 elite response consultants is a woman. She brings everything a man does to the job as well as her intuition. She is the inspiration behind professional kidnap negotiator Thea Paris. 

S. Lee Manning brings ideas and enthusiasm. She has embraced her fellow RWW members as family and keeps us on task, providing the much needed ideas for our blog posts and giveaways. Formerly the managing editor of Law Enforcement Communications, she worked as a lawyer before tackling her first in the Kolya Petrov series, TROJAN HORSE. Orphaned when her publishing house closed pre-publication, she has great quotes from the likes of Gayle Lynds and Steve Berry, and we can't wait until this book finds a home.

And me—my thriller, DARK WATERS, featuring DSS Agent Raisa Jordan is still on the shelves. Set in Israel in the midst of the Palestine-Israel conflict was called "Absolutely masterful" by Manhattan Book Review. The sequel, RED SKY, will be hitting the stands in June 2017. It is available to pre-order today.

More than anything, all of us are so grateful for all of you. Thank you for reading the Rogue Women Writers blog. Thank you for coming out and supporting us at events and signings. And, most of all, thank you for reading our books. We hope you'll keep coming back. We have some great things in store for you in 2017!



What has been your favorite blog topic this year? Anything you'd like us to talk about?




Sunday, November 27, 2016

HOW TO KILL THE JOY IN YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON

By Sonja Stone


HOLIDAYS WITH A PERFECTIONIST

Fruit and cheese platters: the breakfast of champions

Well, the holiday season has officially begun. I know this because a few nights ago I had my recurring seasonal nightmare. It happens every year, usually not for a few more weeks, but here it is: It’s Christmas Eve, about 11:55 pm, and I’m tucked in bed. Suddenly I wake and realize that Santa forgot to fill the kids’ stockings. There are no gifts, no wrappings, no bows. They’ll be up in a few hours. They’ll pad out of their bedrooms to the Christmas tree with hopeful little faces and discover that Santa didn’t come this year.

The same dream. Every. Single. Year. 

For whatever reason, I have a terrible fear that I won’t create the perfect holiday.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: THE FOOD

The seasonal festivities are launched with Thanksgiving dinner, hosted by yours truly. I prepare for days leading up to the event, usually accompanied by tears and cursing (I do the cursing, not the crying). Every year I vow, “Never again!” but by the time I’m halfway through the meal, basking in accolades, I’m planning how I can kick it up a notch the next time.

The reason I stress so much is, of course, due to my perfectionism. This year it was the pumpkin pies. 

Though I carefully covered the hand-crimped edges of the pies for THE ENTIRE BAKING PROCESS, each pie came out of the oven with a half-burned crust. Maybe I wouldn’t be so obsessive if I hadn’t used fresh-roasted pumpkins, the flesh carefully scooped from the hot shells and forced through a potato ricer, then lovingly mixed and poured into my made-from-scratch crusts, the edges of which were adorned with tiny fall leaves, complete with etched veins. The pies tasted delicious, but each compliment was batted away with, “Do you not SEE the burned parts?” 

Let me tell you how to suck the enjoyment out of your guests’ meal: refuse to accept compliments. Who wants to spend Thanksgiving with a neurotic chef? 

My very public humiliation: burned edges.
AND THEN THERE’S THE TREE

Later today I’ll put up the tree. It’s the same one we’ve had for a decade. It’s the right height, fullness, width. The branches are strong enough to hold my heaviest ornaments. It’s the perfect shade of green. It used to be pre-lit but the lights burned out and I replaced them with spools of warm LEDs. For years I’ve searched for a suitable replacement—an easy-to-assemble, already-lighted tree. But the newer models just aren’t right.

Last year it went like this: after I assembled the tree, I decided I didn’t like its location, so I dragged it across the hardwood floor. Not far—maybe four feet; still not quite perfect. But it moved so swimmingly that I continued to drag the tree (rather than disassemble and move it properly). Except by now I’d reached the area rug. So I negotiated the flimsy stand onto the low shag, then got down on all fours to push from the base. Just so you know, a Christmas tree cannot be pushed across a carpet. The base began to buckle—which I didn’t realize until I’d stood to pull the tree toward me. It fell onto me, scratching my arms and jabbing into my eye. 

After returning from Urgent Care, I decided to string the lights. I wanted a brightly lit, twinkling tree, so I painstakingly wrapped each strand around each branch as I circled the tree. More scratching of the arms, but it would be worth it. I got three-quarters of the way done and realized I was out of lights.

Here you might think, “Big deal. Go to Home Depot and get more lights.” Nay nay—my lights are from Balsam Hill. Gorgeous, ridiculously expensive, and not something I cared to reorder due to poor mathematical skills. And I CERTAINLY wasn’t going to have a Christmas tree with mismatched lights. 

I’m sure you know where this is going—I ripped off the lights and had to redo the entire thing.

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

As with everything that goes wrong with anyone’s life, I blame my mother. She created the most magical Christmas mornings. My sister and I continue to hold the expectation of a perfect Christmas. Sometimes we meet the mark, sometimes not so much. 

It might be time for me to let go of my expectations. My kids aren’t little anymore. It probably doesn’t matter if I can’t find quince preserves for the cheese platter or the ornaments don’t hang perfectly from the tree (I like them to gently sway for passers-by). Maybe I’ll deliberately place the strawberries next to the raspberries on the fruit plate (I’m sure you know, two red fruits should be separated by a fruit of another color—blueberries, or slices of bananas sprinkled with cinnamon sugar). Perhaps I’ll purchase store-bought bows, instead of wrapping multiple colors of coordinating curling ribbon around each perfectly wrapped package. 

I get it—I do. Intellectually, I completely understand that if I’m going to enjoy the holidays, I need to set aside my perfectionist tendencies. I’ll have more fun, the kids will have more fun… They’ll stop referring to me as “the big angry head.” I’m not like this the rest of the year; I don’t feel the compulsion to make people happy or comfortable or create the perfect home. So what gives? 

I think that’s it—I feel like I fall short for the rest of the year, and maybe I can make it up in the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Be the perfect mom, the gracious hostess, the thoughtful friend.

You know what? I’ve just made a decision: This year will be different. This is the year I will *gasp* delegate.

Who knows… With enough therapy, I might even be able to replace my Christmas tree.

What about you? Anyone else suffer from Seasonal Neurosis? Leave your stories in the comment section below!




Friday, November 25, 2016

LOVING THE LEFTOVERS: HOW NOT TO HATE YOUR TURKEY IN THE MORNING

This is NOT my turkey carcass, Or my kitchen.
By Francine Mathews

I cooked a sixteen pound turkey this year. That may or may not sound like a lot, depending on the nature of your holiday gatherings. Mine was eight and a half--meaning, eight adults and one five year-old who could be counted on to eat less than a chihauhau. I have a lot of turkey left over.

Growing up in a household of six daughters and extended relations who invariably relegated me to the Kids Table at holidays, I never considered the problem of leftovers. One of my cherished Thanksgiving memories is of my mother making gravy. She had beautiful hands--elegant, slender, fine-boned. As she aged her hands grew knobbier, the veins and knuckles more pronounced, but always adorned with her emerald-cut tourmaline ring and matching bracelet at special family dinners. Her nails were always polished. She was an expert gravy maker, and once while home from college I stood by and watched her swirl the pan juices into flour, cooking a roux, before adding her stock and caressing the dark brown velvet sauce until it shimmered. I remember thinking: When she is gone, I'll remember her hands doing this.

She has been gone six years. I see those hands when I sleep.

And so today, the day after Thanksgiving, I will probably do what I remember my mother doing every Black Friday of my life. I will strip the turkey carcass of meat and set it aside. I will set the bones to making turkey broth for soup on the stove and I will throw together the simplest of comfort food from the remains of our Thanksgiving feast: my mother's go-to recipe. Trend-setting foodists would have you rush out again to the grocery and buy lemon grass or rice vermicelli and turn the turkey into pho. My mother wasn't entering a grocery store the day after Thanksgiving. She grabbed what was already on the shelf--and nobody argued.

Betty Barron's Turkey Tretrazzini
I have to give you this recipe in narrative form, because it has never been written down.

Clean and thinly slice about ten medium-sized baby bella mushrooms. Saute them in a tablespoon each of olive oil and unsalted butter until they are limp and darkened and have given off their juices. Set aside.

Make a bechamel: Melt two tablespoons unsalted butter and when the foam subsides, mix in two tablespoons flour and heat the roux, stirring constantly, until it has turned golden in color about two minutes. Pour in two cups of warm milk and whisk over medium heat until thickened and coating the whisk, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the stove and whisk in half a cup of grated Parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne.

Cook 8 ozs of pasta until al dente and drain. My mother used spaghetti, but you can use any shape pasta you like. Fusilli works well.

Assemble the tetrazzini: Place half the pasta on the bottom of a casserole dish, top with half the mushrooms, about one cup shredded turkey leftovers, and pour half the bechamel over all. Repeat the layers. Top the second layer of bechamel with another half cup of grated Parmesan. 

Bake at 350 for about half an hour, or until the cheese is melted and the casserole is bubbling.


Happy Black Friday!
Francine
www.francinemathews.com

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Burnt Poultry and Other Disasters

Photo of my rotisserie chicken fail



Yes, that's an actual photo of a rotisserie chicken that I'd left out on my Weber grill too long. I was planning on checking in, but got all wrapped up in writing a chapter of my latest manuscript -- I had gotten to a key action scene- and I completely forgot the chicken. I work from a corner of my bedroom with a window to my left and I happened to glance outside and saw the rising smoke. When I ran down to check, I found this. Took a photo and went to a restaurant for dinner, where the professionals who actually can cook work.

News flash: I'm not a great cook. I can bake, yes, but cook? Not so much. That's why I usually work from a recipe book, and why I'll be using some of the great recipes in Karna's last post on this blog. And having seen that chicken above I'll bet you would assume that I never host dinner parties where I cook, but no--you'd be mistaken. Because last New Year's Eve one of my resolutions was to host dinner parties in my home. I was reading Erma Bombeck's touching essay about enjoying life and this line caught me:
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I loved Erma Bombeck's humor and insight, and I decided that she was right. What was I waiting for? I'm a glutton for punishment-or I wish to punish my friends with my cooking, however you'd like to see it, but I decided it would be fun to host a formal sit down dinner. I pulled out my mother's fancy china and crystal (I don't own any) and her silverware. I figured if the food was bad at least the table would look nice. The last thing I needed, though, was a recipe. Oh, and wine. Lots of wine, because my first party would be for moms that I had met through the kids' school or extra curricular activities, and moms so rarely get a night off that I knew we'd all be hitting the wine-- hard.

Since I expected to be drinking and hosting-with no outside catering help, I decided that whatever cookbook I got it had to be written from the perspective of a host who also wanted to enjoy her own party. To that end I got the book, Meals in Heels, by Jennifer Joyce, which I highly recommend. You can buy the book and read Ms. Joyce's wonderful blog about food and hosting here. Many of her recipes are made ahead of the actual event, and so lessen the stress on the day.

Jennifer Joyce
I hit my first snag when she recommended that the bird be "spatchcocked" before cooking. What in the world? I had no idea what this meant, but soon realized that it required cutting the bird at the spine. I was off to get some poultry shears, an item I would never have imagined needing before this little adventure. And tarragon. Never used it.

I'm happy to say that the recipe was divine, the bird perfect, the company funny and smart and the dinner a success! It was a relief to sit with friends and not have a waiter hovering, or being watched by an anxious manager with an eye to turn the table, or to worry about time ticking away as the clock struck midnight.

And while my dining room is small and space limited, I hope to host some more dinners and expand the guest list so that I get a chance to sit down with all of the wonderful people that I've met and who enrich my life now. My writing friends, work friends, neighbors, you name it, and to celebrate them and the spirit of Thanksgiving. And if you have any tips for hosting a party or recipes that you love, please leave them in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


Best, Jamie


Monday, November 21, 2016

Celebrating ALL of Thanksgiving Weekend

...by Karna Small Bodman

My Rogue Writer colleagues have been writing about the coming Thanksgiving Holiday focusing on memories, reasons to give thanks, and ideas for the big dinner on Thursday.  As we all look ahead to a day set aside to count our MANY blessings, especially the great opportunity to live in this wonderful country - once dubbed "A shining city on the hill -- a place for all freedom loving people"... I was thinking about how nice it is that we actually have four days to celebrate.

While we can open any newspaper, magazine or gourmet website all this week and find a gazillion recipes for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, perhaps we should also think about what we might serve family and friends the rest of the weekend while watching football games, entertaining children or just snacking while reading a good novel. And with that thought in mind, I wanted to tell you about a special book put together by many fellow thriller and mystery writers, including our own Gayle Lynds. (I have a recipe in it too) Here are a few from some of our favorite authors:                                       
                                              
Harlan Coben

For a great appetizer, how about Myron's Crabmeat Dip named for a character in Harlan Coben's series about a sports agent (so use this one while watching that football game):

Mix together while heating on the stove and serve warm:
3 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese          2/3 cup dry white wine
3 - 6 oz. cans crabmeat                             2 teaspoons powdered sugar
1/2 cup Miracle Whip                               1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons French mustard                       Dash Lawry's seasoned salt
                                                                    Dash garlic salt                             

With over 60 million books in print worldwide, Harlan's stories regularly debut
on the New York Times Best-Seller List!

For the main course that night, how about Mary's Celebratory Giants Game Night Chili from the all time favorite mystery and suspense writer, Mary Higgins Clark.
Mary Higgins Clark

In a slow cooker, sauté 4 lbs. ground beef, 1 lb. ground sausage and 1 lb. ground turkey, adding salt, black pepper and chili powder to taste.

Add 1 large can crushed tomatoes, 2 small cans diced tomatoes with jalapeno and onion, 1 small onion diced along with 1/4 bottle of beer, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, pinch of cinnamon, shake of garlic powder and bit of black pepper. Let this all cook on high for 4 hours, stir well. Then set slow cooker to low and cook for 2 more hours.

Serve chili with bowls of shredded cheddar cheese, sliced red onion, sour cream and warm tortilla chips.

Raymond Benson
Of course we need something special for the Kids Table! And what better dish than Zillion Calorie Mac and Cheese submitted by our own International Thriller Writer colleague, Raymond Benson, the first American author to write official James Bond novels!

Preheat oven to 350, grease a casserole pan, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook an 8 oz. box of macaroni (according to package directions).

In a saucepan mix: 3 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. As it becomes hot, drop in 12 Kraft Deli Deluxe American cheese slices (or maybe a few more).

Drain macaroni and put it into the casserole pan. Pour in the hot cheesy mixture. Stir, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered 5 more minutes. Then as Raymond says, "Pig out."

Now how about dessert from another fellow ITW author, Joseph Finder, the New York Times Best-Selling author of eleven suspense novels.  He gives us a recipe from a friend for Apple Crumble.
Joseph Finder

Preheat oven to 350 again, put a rack in the center, spray bottom and sides of a 9 inch square glass baking dish with cooking spray. In a bowl cut up 1 stick of unsalted butter into 2 cups of flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Mix in 1/2 cup brown sugar - and put it all into the freezer while you do the next step:

Peel and slice 6 large apples, put them in another bowl and add 3 tablespoons sugar. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon over the apples and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Put apples in the prepared baking dish, get the crumble mixture out of the freezer and sprinkle it over the apples.  Bake for 45 minutes - until the topping is golden brown.

Finally, to top it all off, we have a "contribution" by our good friend, fabulous thriller writer and original member of ITW, Lee Child, who, in what reads like a humorous aside, but graces the last page of the Mystery Writers of America Cookbook, explains Coffee, Pot of One.
Lee Child


Lee says, "OK, this ain't exactly rocket surgery" (yes, that's his term).  He instructs us to "Use a standard mid-range drip coffee maker with a gold-colored mesh filter. Fill with water...Evian works well...for every number on the side of the water jug, add that many spoons of ground coffee, less one...anything from Colombia will do (avoid all flavorings). Close the lid and hit the switch. Wait five, and you're there."

So for those of you who have NEVER made a pot of coffee, we thank Lee for these great instructions! And don't we all love Lee's novels about his character, Jack Reacher -- the second movie by the name was recently released, starring Tom Cruise.

Now from all of us, we wish you a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING with the hope that you enjoy a wonderful long weekend celebrating and giving thanks.  Please leave a comment about some of the reasons you are counting your blessings this Thanksgiving.

....by Karna Small Bodman

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A WRITER'S THANKSGIVING

KJ Howe here, welcoming talented author and reviewer Jon Land to the Rogue Women Writers today.  I've had the pleasure of working with Jon on ThrillerFest for many years, and his enthusiasm for the genre is unsurpassed.  Jon reaches out to new authors every chance he gets, offering them his sage guidance, as he has experienced everything from writing non-fiction books to bestselling thrillers to screenwriting to co-writing with the esteemed Heather Graham.

If you're looking for a panel master extraordinaire, Jon would be a brilliant choice.  His irrepressible energy, thorough research into the panelists' backgrounds, and thought-provoking questions creates a buzz in any room.

In the spirit of our theme this week, Jon pens a note to all the people and things he is thankful for in his writing life.  Writers, readers--we'd love to hear what you're thankful for today.  Take it away, Jon.



A WRITER’S THANKSGIVING

In no particular order . . .

I’m thankful for being able to make a living (most of the time!) at what I love to do the most, maybe the greatest gift any person can be given.

I’m thankful for all the wonderful friends I’ve made from International Thriller Writers, an organization that’s really more of a fraternity and community and is comprised of some of my favorite people in the world.

I’m thankful for David Morrell, Gayle Lynds, Jim Rollins, MJ Rose, Kim Howe, Doug Preston, Bob Stine, Lee Child, Sandra Brown, John Lescroart, Dr. Doug Lyle, Steve Berry, Liz Berry, Kathy Antrim, Jeff Ayers and so, so many, many others who make up those favorite people.

I’m thankful for Tom Doherty and Forge Books, who’ve never given up on me and always been willing to take a chance, by rolling the publishing dice to advance my career.

I’m thankful for having a brilliant editor and agent Natalia Aponte who makes my work so much better and never stops pushing me to become a better writer tomorrow than I was yesterday.

I’m thankful for my first agent, the legendary Toni Mendez, who took a chance on me back in 1981 when no one else would and never quit trying to find me a publishing home.

I’m thankful for the late, great Walter Zacharius, founder of Kensington Books, who gave me that first publishing home.

I’m thankful for Fawcett Books and the Random House family for becoming my second publishing home.

I’m thankful for Bob Gleason, my fantastic editor at Tor/Forge and the smartest man I know, whose friendship is as important to me as his desire to see my books get the attention he believes they deserve.

I’m thankful for Heather Graham, as great a person as she is a writer, who agreed to collaborate with me on a brand new series that begins with THE RISING in January, because now I have a chance to ride her coattails to the New York Times bestseller list that I’ve failed to reach on my own.

I’m thankful for Jane Friedman and Open Road Integrated Media for giving my long out of print backlist a home and offering that part of my career a lifeline.

I’m thankful to my agent Bob Diforio for bringing me to Open Road and for placing three of my nonfiction projects.

I’m thankful for E-readers and tablets that have become a fresh lifeblood of an industry too often rooted in its ways, introducing readers to tens of thousands of books they never would’ve had access to before.

I’m thankful for the fact that print sales are going up and the reports of our industry’s death turned out to be greatly exaggerated.

I’m thankful for Brown University, whose then “New Curriculum” allowed me to stretch my wings and actually become a writer.  That curriculum may not be new anymore, but it’s equally vital.

I’m thankful for all the wonderful high school teachers who laid the foundation that taught me to love learning, and reading, while laying the foundation that got me to Brown.

I’m thankful for late, great Professor Elmer Blistein, my Brown mentor, who took a chance on me by agreeing to sponsor my senior thesis which became my first novel, and thriller, that will never again see the light of day!

I’m thankful for my family, especially my parents, who swallowed their disappointment over me not going to law school and supported my dreams and efforts to become a writer in every way, shape and form.

I’m thankful for Camp Samoset, where I unwittingly first learned how to write by telling stories to kids in cabins and around campfires. 

I’m thankful for all the wonderful books I read that made me want to be a writer, because before you can love writing, you have to love reading.

I’m thankful for living in a country where dreams can still come true and second chances, even third or fourth ones, still happen.

I’m thankful for all the bookstore owners and managers who weathered a storm that nearly wiped them out a few years back, continuing to fight the good fight because they know that books matter.

I’m thankful for the huge bestselling authors who keep people coming into bookstores.

I’m thankful for all the on-line stores that make buying books so easy, there’s no excuse not to read anymore.


And most of all, I’m thankful for all my readers, without whom I wouldn’t be penning this blog or living my dream.

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of 39 novels, including eight titles in the critically acclaimed Caitlin Strong series: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break, Strong Vengeance, Strong Rain Falling (winner of the 2014 International Book Award and 2013 USA Best Book Award for Mystery-Suspense), Strong Darkness (winner of the 2014 USA Books Best Book Award and the 2015 International Book Award for Thriller and Strong Light of Day which won the 2016 International Book Award for Best Thriller-Adventure, the 2015 Books and Author Award for Best Mystery Thriller, and the 2016 Beverly Hills Book Award for Best Mystery.  The latest title in the series is Strong Cold Dead, was published on October 4 and about which Booklist said, “Thrillers don’t get any better than this,” in a starred review. Land has also teamed with multiple New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham on a new sci-fi series, the first of which, The Rising, will be published by Forge in January of 2017. He is a 1979 graduate of Brown University and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.