That was the year that was 2013

Looking at the family letter I always write during the Christmas season, I found myself trying to remember: what did I do this year, anyway? I know I had a book out, but… So I looked back at my calendar, and found that yes, I was a bit busy:
In January, I was still wielding my machete amongst the tangled undergrowth in The Bones of Paris, the rewrite that wouldn’t die. Because I was both late and determined, my work-weeks edged up into the high seventy-hours, as I lived on the dining room table (the only place I could spread out a manuscript.)
February saw my twentieth birthday as a published writer—a still-published writer! Our Grave Talent celebrations included my thank-you to libraries, the places that gave me such a boost in the early days. Ten libraries received a book-club-in-a-box from me, along with my sincere thanks.
March continued the Library Extravaganza with my Puget Sound trip: a talk at a library with a river running under it, another on a Sound-crossing ferry, and a pair of talks to a great collection of island dwellers.
April, home of National Library Week, saw our annual library contest. Great entries, and the winner, with a fabulous Kate Martinelli story, was Sabrina Flynn. Her story lurks here.
May was Malice, that grand conference celebrating the classic mystery, which asked me to be guest of honor. I was, truly, honored. May was also one of the best events I’ve ever been involved in, Higher Mysteries with Zoe Ferraris, Sharan Newman, Julia Spencer-Fleming and me, talking about how we use religion in our crime fiction. Podcasts of the event, along with individual interviews of all four of us, are here, or you can watch the video, here:

June began the countdown to The Bones of Paris with images that give background to the book—its Pinterest board is here.
July saw giveaways—and a new and original video, from Team LRK!
August was busy. Every day we posted a snippet from Bones, an image, and a reflection on that image (they’re collected here.) At the same time, I was enjoying an English summer with my family. (Research, all of it. Especially the pubs, and feeding the swans, and the day at Blenheim…)DSC00130
September, after ten more days of teasing snippets-and-photos, The Bones of Paris came outIMGP4388

—and thank you very much, it did nicely with sales and reviews. I also had the usual fantastic time at BoucherCon (next year—Long Beach: sign up now!)
October: Seattle Sherlock was a blast, including festivities, wild costumes, and interviews.
Thurber House, Columbus was just as much fun. And at last, the short story Hellbender was e-ified.
In November, I buckled down to writing, since the new novel is due in late January. In the meantime, Team LRK got a new e-project up: the two thesis projects from my dark, distant past, academic work that contributed so much to my writing over the years. It’s here.
December was mostly quiet and work, the first draft taking form and the pages accumulating. It was capped by a nice Christmas present, when my friend Les Klinger won the court case he started because of the second Sherlockian anthology we were putting together (details are here).
And I think that tomorrow, I’ll talk a bit about what I expect in 2014.

A relaxing event

Relaxation isn’t exactly the defining characteristic of this time of year.  But to the rescue comes The Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Libraries. My local library Friends asked me to participate in a fundraiser that everyone can get behind.  Here’s their flyer for the event:


The First Annual

Stay Home & Read a Book

Santa Cruz Public Library


And here’s what I wrote for them inside:

Dear Reader,

Like books?  Love your library?

Come and join us for a wild night of literary revelry!  Or rather, don’t join us, because we’re all going to be cozy at home with a book, a warm wrap, and a glass or cup of a beverage of choice.

That’s right, this is your invitation to a fabulous party.  All the guests will be fascinating, and the refreshments the very best your kitchen can provide.  It’ll take you no time at all to get there, you won’t have to dress up or have your hair done, won’t need a sitter or designated driver.  You don’t have to pay for new clothes, a manicure, or even a bouquet of flowers to take along.

However, every host and hostess appreciates a little gift, even when the invitation is for a fabulous non-event like this one.  So bring your hosts a gift—or rather, send it.  (We’re all staying at home, remember?)  Doing so supports one of the best places out there for a party.

The library is where things begin, where all the fascinating people hang out, where you’re welcomed and entertained and supported at every step inside the door.  The library is where kids learn to read, and to dream.  Where adults go to hunt down information and make contacts.   Where the past lies, waiting for us to learn from it, and the future lurks, waiting for us to find it.  Where DVDs and audio books amuse us and genealogical research and small business courses happen; where people read to your small children or help your older ones with their homework, then teach you how to run your computer or your small business.  And after that, they pick up the knitting needles or glue gun and teach you to create—en Español or English, day in and day out, free of charge.

Oh, and books.  All kinds of books, waiting for you to borrow and carry back home, in time to join the Stay Home & Read a Book Library Ball.

All for free.

So let’s show our thanks to our library, who are hosting the Stay at Home Ball without demanding that we spend a cent on new clothes.  Donations are both tax deductible and heart-warning, ensuring that our library will stay open, and free, and filled with all the riches of the world.

I hope you enjoy the non-Ball as much as I intend to!


Laurie R. King

I suggest that you urge your own library Friends to put together their own (non-) Event, thus doing good both by raising a few dollars, and by providing a small window of relaxation in a hectic season.

Or you could do it in the summer.

If you love libraries and would like to give my particular branch a Christmas present, their page on the (non-) event is here.

Now, back to my book.

Think big, shop small!

Small Business Saturday is coming!  For those of us who love local, who shudder at the thought of Target at 5:00 am the day after Thanksgiving, who believe in our bones that Thanksgiving shopping is a sign of the End Times, there’s Small Business Saturday.  Shop local on the day after the day after Thanksgiving, and you’ll come away with unbruised ribs and the warm knowledge that you’ve helped the people who keep your town running.

You’ll also probably come away with more personal gifts for holiday giving than if you fought the crowds.

This year, a lot of bookstores are joining the Shop Small day, including my local, Bookshop Santa Cruz.  They’ve even brought some of us locals in to talk about our favorite books:

10:00am-12:00pm:Newbery Award-winning children’s book author Paul Fleischman


Young Adult author and writing instructor Jill Wolfson


Internationally acclaimed mystery writer Laurie R. King


Poet and writing instructor Patrice Vecchione


No Black Friday, no Cyber Monday, just shopping with friends and a gentle drive home. Check out your local shops here.

Here’s the Bookshop Santa Cruz page.  And on November 30th, remember to:


Litquake joie de livre!

San Francisco and books: can’t have one without the other, I’d say.  And the annual SF book festival is about to explode all over the streets of The City.  Including yours truly:


Come and join us at the ever-fabulous Books Inc on Saturday afternoon. And it’s free!  Details are here.


bones-of-paris-coverI’ll be in Portland on Thursday night–or rather, Beaverton, at the great Powell’s branch there. I’ve done a number of fabulous events at this store, including a really memorable Pirate bash two years ago. This time, I can’t promise a squadron of pirates, but one never knows. Flappers?  Skeletons?  People wearing Eiffel Tower costumes?

It’s time for The Bones of Paris in Beaverton, come and join us.  Event info is here.

Letters of Mary

Among the many unexpected joys I have discovered in being a writer has been the extraordinary community that has formed around the Mary Russell stories.  People with little in common geographically or even socially come together online in mutual affection for Russell & Holmes—and, even more amazing, forge lasting friendships when they come together physically at one conference or another.BEEK UK copy

One of the early manifestations of this Russell-based community was Letters of Mary, a Yahoo group currently celebrating its seventh year of e-friendship and mutual admiration.  Over the years, a number of them have become fast friends—of each other, and of mine.  To mark the anniversary, the moderators would like to issue the following invitation:

Have you ever longed to be part of a friendly community of people who love Russell and Holmes as much as you do?   Then The Letters of Mary Yahoo Group is perfect for you.

LOM is a place where you can ask questions, join in discussions, and have access to an amazing archive of fan fiction to satisfy your Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes craving between books. Come join like-minded people and celebrate all things Russellian!

Alice and Merrily


The Letters of Mary Yahoo Group, here.

Yes, today!


What, you were expecting another day of countdown?


Nope, The Bones of Paris: on shelves in your local bookstore, today.  And if you’re within striking distance of San Francisco, join us tonight for our launch with a French accent.


In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the shops to open, take a look at these:

Pinterest Contest winners

It was not easy.  It never is, judging projects that have been put together by so many talented and energetic people, but this one was really very tough.  I judged on 1) the amount of work in the boards, 2) the thought that went into the pins, and 3) the pins’ close ties with the excerpts given from The Bones of Paris.  And that’s what I got, by the dozen.

If you entered and didn’t win a prize, that doesn’t mean you don’t win my thanks for playing.  I am honestly in awe of you people.  But since I have only one grand prize winner to name, and a limited number of runners-up prizes, I am forced to choose.  Here it is.

The Grand Prize, an iPad mini pre-loaded with my books (including The Bones of Paris) goes to:

Louise Chambers.  Just take a look at her board, here.

And look, too, at the boards of the five runners-up, who win signed hardbacks of The Bones of Paris:

Trish FlettSabrina FlynnBrandi Bailey, Sharon of Faith Hope and Cherry Tea, and Stacey L.

But there were two more that I just had to acknowledge, for different reasons.  Kate Finn, for her clever use of color—start at the bottom of her board and scroll up, watching it go from black-and-white through red and violet to the top. And Mary Achor, who wins special appreciation for being, as far as I know, the first to start a Pinterest board about The Bones of Paris, back in May.

Thank you, everyone, for playing the Pinterest game.


And thank you, everyone, for encouraging me with your enthusiasm about The Bones of Paris.  I hope you love it.


Higher Mysteries podcast

My buddy Rick Kleffel has posted his podcasts of the Higher Mysteries panel, in which four top-ranking crime writers talk about using religion and theology in their work, on his web site, The Agony Column:

“You’re all here for Tax Law 101, right?”

—Laurie R. King

For all the seriousness of her premise, Laurie R. King set a light tone for her panel discussion about “Higher Mysteries” with Sharan Newman, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Zoe Ferraris. King is a natural ring-leader, and must have been a rather mischievous student when she was studying theology in college. She makes a great host for three other very smart writers.

I captured the whole one-hour plus conversation, which offers a lot of fun, insight, and most importantly, many reasons to read. It’s hard to listen to such a great talk and not head directly to the library or bookstore to pick up the subjects of conversation.


But wait, there’s more!

He also recorded one-on-one interviews with all four of us who participated in the event, and has those available as well.  Rick, who does a lot of work for NPR, is one of the best interviewers around.  I think you’ll love what he got the four of us to say.

The “Higher Mysteries” event is here.

An abridged version (3:45) is here.

His interview with Zoë Ferraris is here.

The one with Julia Spencer-Fleming is here.

The talk with Sharan Newman is here.

Rick’s interview with me is here.


The Mystery of a Good Event

What makes for a good event?  Well, it helps when a moderator is working with three wicked smart women with lightning-fast tongues and a great sense of humor.SONY DSC

And it also helps when the crowd is equally quick on their feet and genuinely interested in the subject. (This shows about half those who eventually crowded in.)SONY DSC

(A moderator who has read the books and thought about the questions helps, too…)SONY DSC

It helps keep the energy high, in all directions.SONY DSC

And lays the groundwork for another in the King Lecture series, next year.SONY DSC

Cartloads of thanks to (left to right above) Sharan Newman, Julia Spencer-Fleming, and Zoë Ferraris for their willingness to come and talk God and crime (writing).  And to The Planners (you know who you are), but especially to the Santa Cruz librarians, for inviting us to take over their building and for helping us spread the word, and to the Friends of the Santa Cruz Public Library, for handling the book sales and providing a noble variety of food and drink.  You ladies made the evening perfect.

Those of you who came out, thank you, and I hope you had even half as much fun as we did.  And for those of you who missed it, we’ll have podcasts and a video as soon as the hard-working volunteers manage to process them for you—when they’re up, I’ll post here and let you know.

There are days, and nights, when I love my job.  Last night was one of those.


Higher Mysteries, Santa Cruz style

Tuesday night finds me in rapt conversation with three other Ladies of Mystery, talking about how we use religion and theology in our crime fiction, and why.  The panel will be podcast, and possibly videotaped (yes yes, I know they don’t use tape any more…) but if you’re anywhere in the vicinity, come and join us for a night of library splendor.

The local paper has an article about it, here, and the details (with a printable flyer) are here.