Month: September 2014

MWANY descends on Brooklyn

A few photos from the Brooklyn Book Festival


bbf11Sharon Linnea, Annamaria Alfieri, David Swatling, Dan Greenburg


Scott Adlerberg, Lyndsay Faye, Albert Ashforth

bbf6Joel Gomez-Dossi, Triss Stein, Bill Curatolo

bbf10Liz Zelvin, Sheila York, Alex Segura

bbf12Jeffrey Somers, Tracey Landau

bbf7Tim Hall, Charles Salzberg, Joseph Trigoboff, and, in the back, our fearless leader, Richie Narvaez

bbf9Jeff Markowitz, Lyndsay Faye


“I bet you my mouth is bigger than yours!”


Speaking hypothetically about not wanting

“I see now that wanting things is dangerously likely to lead to disappointment. Not wanting them is a much easier path to serenity.”

Perhaps, speaking hypothetically, you want a child who remembers to lock up his bicycle at school. It’s not an unreasonable thing to want. Perhaps that want leads to disappointment (and all manner of practical difficulties) because your child is the kind who forgets to lock up the bicycle. Perhaps you decide to give up wanting the kind of child who remembers to lock up his bicycle. After all, it is not the worst thing a child can do. So you surrender the wanting and put yourself squarely on a much easier path to serenity.

Or so you say.

But it seems to me what you’ve done is change the object of your wanting. Instead of wanting the kind of child who remembers to lock up his bicycle, you’ve decided instead to want an easier path to serenity. Not wanting is just another kind of wanting. Wanting serenity does not put you on the path to serenity any more than wanting a child who remembers to lock up his bicycle puts you on the path to a child who remembers to lock up his bicycle.

When asked to explain enlightenment, the master Bankei said, “When I’m hungry, I eat; when I’m tired I sleep.” His answer reminds me of another answer I read recently, “1. work; 2. take care of kids”.

The secret is that there is no secret.

A Tale of Two Cities

To be precise, neither Historic Smithville nor Brooklyn are cities, but you have to take certain liberties when you’re crafting headlines. I have two upcoming book events and they are a study in contrast.

On Saturday, September 13, I will sign books at Authors on the Greene, on the Village Greene in Smithville.

vgHistoric Smithville is a quaint shopping village in south Jersey, not far from Atlantic City, and yet a world apart. On Saturday, some 50 NJ authors will set up tables on the green and, hopefully, will sell a lot of books. This year will be my third appearance at Authors on the Greene. It is always fun, chatting with readers and writers alike, catching up with old friends and making a few new friends. I hope you’ll come by and say hello. And while you’re there, stop in at Through the Looking Glass, the tea shoppe which sponsors Authors on the Greene.

And then, on Sunday September 21, I’ll be signing books at the Brooklyn Book Festival.bbfBrooklyn is certainly historic, and you might even be inclined to call some neighborhoods quaint, but it would never be mistaken for Smithville. And the Book Festival is a wee bit larger than Authors on the Greene, with events occurring on thirteen separate stages, hundreds authors and exhibitors and tens of thousands of readers. You’ll find me hanging out with the mystery writers.



The Chalk Outline

The chalk outline is a well-established element in crime fiction. It was a natural choice for the name of my blog.


In my first book, Who is Killing Doah’s Deer?, high school science teacher Bill Wehnke (who is having an affair with the Mayor’s wife) is found dead on a back road in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, dressed only in his chili-pepper boxer shorts. By the time Mayor “Big Jim” Donovan goes out to take a first-hand look at the crime scene, the body has already been removed, replaced only by a chalk outline. Unable to avoid imagining Bill, naked, save for his boxer shorts, the Mayor gets a can of paint and paints Bill, fully-clothed in a blue suit, inside the chalk outline.