Friday, July 30, 2010

The next Irene Kelly book

I'm literally just finishing it. The title is Disturbance, it is scheduled to be out in June, 2011. More details soon!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We interrupt this series of posts...

I will continue talking about LCC tomorrow. Today, while working on the CLP News, I came across some news stories in the Mobile Press-Register I think everyone in the U.S. should read -- about a massive backlog of fingerprints in Alabama. I talk about them on the Crime Lab Project's blog.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Left Coast Crime 2010 - Part II

The convention organizers graciously agreed to work with the Crime Lab Project and the California Institute of Forensic Science to sponsor a special event on Wednesday, March 10.
The Left Coast Crime 2010 Forensic Science Day. They also very generously agreed to donate all proceeds from the day to the Crime Lab Project Foundation, to be given to the CSFI. Rose Ochi tells us that these funds will be used to help graduate students purchase materials to carry out their research.

So not only were we offering something unique to attendees, they were supporting a great cause!

The day took lots of planning and preparation, and we're all indebted to the CFSI's Rose Ochi for her early support of the event, to Harley Sagara for his many efforts, and to Howard Ho for his additional help.

This was a full-day event at the Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center at California State University, Los Angeles. The HSFSC is a new facility that houses forensic science services for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. It is the largest "full service" crime lab in the country. It also includes training and research facilities as well as classrooms.

Attendance was limited to 75 and the event sold out weeks ago.

Here's a quick look at our day.

8:30-8:45 Welcome
We were honored to be welcomed by Cheryl L. Ney, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies at CSULA.
Rose Ochi, the Executive Director, California Forensic Science Institute and I, in my role as head of The Crime Lab Project, made additional opening statements. Harley Sagara served as our ringmaster throughout the day.

A series of excellent presentations followed:

8:45-9:45 The Crime Scene
Don Johnson, CSULA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics

9:45-10:45 Questioned Documents
Mel Cavanaugh, Questioned Documents Examiner, Sgt (Ret.) LASD Scientific Service Bureau

11:00-12:00 Forensic Science and the Courts
Myrna Raeder, Professor of Law, Southwestern University School of Law

After lunch, we split into smaller groups for a tour of the HDFSC. The tour was followed by three more excellent presentations:

2:00-3:00 Firearms
Allison Manfreda, Criminalist II, LAPD Scientific Investigations Division-
Firearm Analysis Unit

3:15-4:15 Trace Evidence
Lynne Herold, Senior Criminalist LASD Scientific Service Bureau/Trace Section

4:15-5:15 Biology-DNA
Katherine Roberts, CSULA School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics

I did an informal follow up session for writers on using what we had learned. Each attendee also received a handout with lots of additional information.

The feedback from our attendees has been incredibly positive and their reviews of the day have been stellar. I'm sure we'll do another event at the HDFSC for CFSI, and I've been talking to other convention organizers about doing a similar program at a future Left Coast Crime. When I know more about that, I'll let you know.

I was especially glad that my husband, Tim Burke, was able to join us for this day. He hears me talk about this stuff all the time, and we've donated to CFSI, but this was his first chance to actually look around inside the building!
Tomorrow: LCC 2010 - Part III

Monday, March 15, 2010

Left Coast Crime 2010 - Part I

I have so much to tell you about Left Coast Crime 2010! So much, I'm going to turn this into several posts.

I was one of the Guests of Honor this year, and I consider this among the highest honors I've received.

I was asked to be a GOH a few years ago by Paul Anik, an incredibly bright and energetic lover of mystery books. He collected them, and reviewed for "I Love a Mystery."

Paul and his wife, Barbara, traveled all the way to Santa Barbara to surprise me an appearance there, and you'll get a glimpse of his sense of humor when I tell you that Paul, an attorney, "served" me with a "subpoena" -- an invitation to be a Guest of Honor in that format. I was so flattered -- the first mystery convention I ever attended was Left Coast Crime 1992, so Left Coast Crime has always been special to me. When Paul offered this prestigious honor to me, of course I immediately agreed!

Paul's enthusiasm was contagious, and over the next two years I saw him make many efforts to ensure that LCC2010 was a success.

Then tragedy struck. In early 2009, Paul died of a heart attack. He was an active man, and far too young to be lost in this way, and it was a great shock to all who knew and loved him. To have someone so full of life and laughter suddenly taken from us seemed incomprehensible. (You can see a photo of him and read more about his life here.)

Paul's committee of volunteers carried on his work. Putting a convention together isn't easy under any circumstances, but this group did so after losing the chief organizer of the event, and while dealing with their own grief over his loss.

They dedicated this convention to his memory, and I was deeply honored to be seated with Barbara and his children, Vanessa and Ben, at the convention banquet.

In tribute to Paul, LCC 2010 created the Panik Award, given for the "best Los Angeles noir book published in 2009." It was won by Linda L Richards for Death Was in the Picture.

I think Paul would have been very pleased by how his convention turned out. I heard nothing but raves from attendees. He worked hard to ensure that his fellow mystery readers would have a great experience, and the committee ensured that happened. And I think he would have been especially happy to know that his pick of Downtown Los Angeles as the site of the event proved to be a excellent choice.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ed Thomas

I learned today that Ed Thomas has passed away.

I can't tell you how hard it was to type those words. I knew he had been ill, knew that he was not expected to survive, but still it's hard. Even as I would not wish a moment's suffering on my beloved friend, it is so hard.

In 1992, many months before my first book was published, I received a call from a bookseller in Orange, California. Ed Thomas, the owner of Book Carnival, had read an advanced readers copy of Goodnight, Irene, and invited me to sign at his store when it was published. He was kindness itself, and I accepted his invitation.

So my first book signing was held at Book Carnival, and I came away from it with a false impression that every signing at any store might include a huge turnout. My humility was soon returned to me. But after that, I tried hard to arrange matters so that Book Carnival would always be my first signing date. Although I wasn't always able to prevail over plans my publisher's marketing department made, every time I published a book I signed there as soon as I could. It wasn't the turnout, although they always managed a good one for me, but I would have been happy to return in any case — because that 1992 phone call was the beginning of two treasured friendships — Ed and Pat Thomas were unfailingly kind to me over the next 18 years.

Ed had already been in the book business a long time when I met him. The number of authors who felt a family-like loyalty to him is legion, and by the time I met him already included Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais and scores of others. For me, each visit to that store was like a visit home. Pat and I would talk about Texas and family and friends; Ed would tell jokes and stories; they would always treat you right. I would come to a friend's signing and still be in the store over an hour after it ended, talking to Ed and Pat.

Ed would tell me a joke (he had my number early on re judging how earthy they could be) and Pat would blush and wave a dismissive hand at him and say "Oh, Ed!" even as she laughed with us.

The Book Carnival is one of the oldest stores of its kind in the country. In 2003, Ed and Pat Thomas traveled to New York for the Edgars, where they were presented with the Raven. They were richly deserving of the acknowledgement.One of my favorite photos was taken of the three of us that night, and you can see it here.

Jokes and stories were part of each of my visits to the store, but nothing excited Ed like discovering a good read. I never walked out of Book Carnival only carrying the book I came in for. That was okay — I happily anticipated discovering a new (to me) writer with each visit. It was what every writer knew when they were at the store — Ed loved the books he sold. He knew mystery and dark fantasy (the store's specialty). He was extremely well-read in the genres, and also read beyond them. He knew book collecting, but he was not one of those folks with an untouched library. He learned what his customers liked and remembered that, so that even if a book could be bought cheaper somewhere else, they came to his small store for all that he offered them beyond a buck off. And what he offered was a great deal of knowledge and personal service. He was a man who wouldn't tell you he liked something he didn't. He wouldn't tell you a rare book was worth more than it was. The buyer didn't have to beware at the Book Carnival.

I always loved to exchange stories about some of our wackier encounters with the public. Ed once told me a story about getting a call from a man who asked him where the store was.
Ed told him the address.
The man said, "No, it's not."
"Yes, it is," Ed said.
Ed listened with growing incredulity as the guy started to argue with him about it. "Look, whether you believe it or not," Ed said, "I'm standing right here in it."

How I wish he was standing right there now, that I could drive there tonight and visit one more time, and let him know how very much I'll miss him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Radio tonight

I'll be on Desert News Talk Station 94.3 FM with host Christopher Rice tonight at 7:15 PM Pacific talking about the Crime Lab Project. If you get a chance, listen in and call in!