The Tao of Doo

In his kind and generous review of my first mystery, DEATH NOTICE, author James Reasoner said the plot was vaguely reminiscent of something found in Scooby-Doo, only played seriously. He meant it as a compliment and I took it Read more


Another October, another release date. Since BAD MOON is my second book, you would think I'd be used to it. But nope, I'm not. BAD MOON's publication date feels as surreal as DEATH NOTICE's did last year. For readers, the Read more

Writing With ... Louise Penny

I am thrilled beyond words to welcome one of my favorite writers, Louise Penny, whose Armand Gamache mysteries have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide.  Her last book, BURY YOUR DEAD, won the Ellis for best mystery in Canada, and Read more

Is Browsing Dead?

I'll be the first to admit that I was a nerdy teenager. Not pocket protector nerdy, but no sports star, either. I was bookish, I guess you could say. I read A LOT back then, and nothing pleased me Read more

Why We Left Earth

Outer space has always been a mystery. Even before mankind fully grasped its vastness, they wanted to go there. Early astronomers, fascinated by the stars, invented ways to get a closer view. Think Copernicus, Galileo, Cassini. Writers not content Read more

Writing With … Grant Jerkins

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Today I welcome Grant Jerkins, author of A VERY SIMPLE CRIME. I first learned about Grant when our debuts were paired together on He sent me an e-mail introducing himself and now we’re Facebook buds. Such is the way of modern publishing. His latest book is AT THE END OF THE ROAD and it’s getting fantastic buzz. You can learn more about Grant  and his books at

Q. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

AT THE END OF THE ROAD is based on a real incident from my childhood. In the summer of 1976, when I was ten, I was riding my bicycle in the middle of the dirt road in front of my house when a car came speeding around a curve in the road. To avoid hitting me, the woman behind the wheel had to swerve. Her car flipped and rolled, ending up on its side. The woman crawled out, bloody and battered. She asked me to help her, but I ran away. I was scared. I was just ten years old. So I ran away and never told a soul. The next day I went back and the car was gone. No sign of the accident remained. The woman and her car had just disappeared. AT THE END OF THE ROAD is my imagining of what might have happened to that woman.

Q. Did you need to do any special research for the book? If so, what’s one of the most interesting facts you discovered?

Because the story takes place in 1976, I did do a good bit of research, not wanting to rely on my memory alone. Drano plays a crucial role in the story, and I would say 95% of that research time was spent on learning as much about Drano as I possibly could. It was essential I know what color the liquid was and what type of container it came in. In 1976, Liquid Drano (the crystal formulation was more prominent) was a blue liquid that came in a red, white, and blue metal bottle with a plastic cap.

Q. Many people are content to just be readers. How did you become a writer?

Really? Everybody I know who can sound out a sentence wants to write them, too. Seriously, every reader I’ve ever met is certain they can write a book. They’re just biding their time. I was the same way.

Q. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I enjoy amateur medical research. Nothing heavy duty. You know Hemingway prided himself on his medical knowledge.

Q. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading DISSECTION OF THE DOG AND CAT by Michael Shively. It’s for a special project.

Q. If you were stranded on that proverbial deserted island, what five books would you want to have with you?

I would want books that I probably wouldn’t normally read for pleasure. I mean, how many times can you read THE SHINING? With that in mind, I would bring the Bible, the Koran, works of Shakespeare — but I wonder if I would regret that strategy? I wonder if I would find myself reading Leviticus by firelight and wishing I had some Stephen King on hand? Leviticus is pretty dry. It’s quite the dilemma you’ve presented here. Maybe I would bring five blank journals and write my own books. Is that cheating? Or what if I was Burgess Meredith and I broke my glasses and I couldn’t read anything at all? That would be the ultimate twist. I really like this question, Todd.

Q. What’s your favorite movie?

Honestly, anything with Burgess Meredith.

Q. What’s your favorite food?

Pineapple and mayonnaise sandwiches.

Q. Cats or dogs?

I’ve constructed a 100% medically accurate petipede. CatDogCatDog.

Q. Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I think the petipede would surprise most people. It’s really alarming the first time you see it. I mean really alarming. I was just thinking, I wonder if I could bring Burgess Meredith and the petipede to that deserted island? And a can of Drano in case I want to continue my research. Do you want to know the secret to constructing a 100% medically accurate petipede? It’s Drano, Todd. Drano. It smooths the edges.

Vicious Circle

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Other than maybe “How do you get your story ideas?”, the question I get asked the most is “When is your next book coming out?”

It’s a very flattering question, to be sure. It means people like what I do and are excited to read more.

Yet creating a book takes time. A year or more, in fact. And when, as is the case with BAD MOON, my latest book has been in stores less than a month, I feel bad when the answer is, “Not for a while.”

Yet I have some good news for those readers chomping at the bit to read more about Kat Campbell and Perry Hollow. My next book is already out.

Sort of.

It’s called VICIOUS CIRCLE. It’s not a full-length novel. At roughly 70 pages, it’s more of a novella or a very long short story. And it’s also not a book. It’s an eBook, available on the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and every other reading device you can think of. It’s fun. It’s suspenseful. And I hope it will tide my wonderful readers over until my next full-length work comes out.

Oh, did I mention it’s only 99 cents? In these lean times, that’s a bonus in and of itself.

Here’s the official plot:

Small towns don’t get much smaller than Perry Hollow, Pennsylvania. A charming mix of quaint streets and sprawling fields, it used to be a quiet and uneventful place. Then a serial killer struck, bringing the town unwanted attention and putting the life of its police chief, Kat Campbell, at risk.

Nine months have passed since then, and peace has returned to Perry Hollow. But when a local farmer discovers a crop circle in one of his fields, the town finds itself back in the spotlight. Was the crop circle the work of human hands? Or is something more mysterious — and unearthly — happening in the fields of Perry Hollow?

Reporting to the scene, Kat finds a pair of young farmers in over their heads, neighbors both friend and foe, and a vicious circle of jealousy, lies and backstabbing. And as she gets closer to unraveling the truth, Chief Campbell once again finds herself fighting for her life.

For those of you who haven’t read BAD MOON yet, don’t worry. VICIOUS CIRCLE is a standalone work that can be enjoyed by anyone. And if you haven’t read any of my books, then I think it’s a perfect place to start.


The Awesome List No. 2

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Five things that rocked my world this week.

Pan Am

The ratings for this show seem to be dropping every week, making it as doomed as the passengers on Oceanic Flight 815. Yet I love it all the same. Part workplace drama, espionage thriller, fashion show and travelogue, it’s about four plucky flight attendants and their two pilots as they fly to exotic ports of call rendered in charmingly unconvincing sets and greenscreen backdrops. The cast is likable, the clothes are to die for and the show’s portrayal of life in the air is glamorous, relaxing and wistful all at once. A nice escape for someone like me, who has been flying way too much in recent weeks.


This bookstore in Maplewood, New Jersey, has two missions: To serve the community’s reading needs and to help people with special needs by teaching them job skills. That’s a fantastic combination. Check them out on the web at

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

For me, there is only one real candy to give out at Halloween — these milk chocolate discs filled with creamy peanut butter. It’s the best candy ever made, hands down. And this year, I made sure to have quite a few left over once all the trick or treaters went home.

Supernatural Superserious

I’ve been listening to a lot of R.E.M. ever since the band announced their breakup a few weeks ago. They were my favorite in the last couple of years of high school and my first two years of college. And while I didn’t listen to them much since Bill Berry left the band, this single from their 2008 album Accelerate has jumped to the top of my playlist. A rollicking three minutes of teenage angst, it sounds like something that would feel right at home on 1992’s Automatic For The People.


The first novel from Manuel Munoz takes place in Bakersfield, California, right around the time Alfred Hitchcock and Janet Leigh arrived to film parts of Psycho. Hitch and Ms. Leigh are never named, but they play a big part in this fictional story about how a crime of passion inspired one of the world’s most famous films. Munoz tells this fascinating tale in achingly clear prose that evokes a whole town’s hopes, dreams and despair.