Monday, December 29, 2014

Some News

The audio edition of WHAT ANGELS FEAR is now available. Davina Porter is once again the narrator. Recorded Books has purchased the audio rights to the entire series, so all the books they'd missed should come out over the next year or so. Their cover of Why Kings Confess has a Victorian gentleman lounging in a chair, so I'm very happy with this cover of Angels.

And my Aussie readers will be happy to know that WHAT ANGELS FEAR and WHEN GODS DIE will soon be available as ebooks in Australia (that's the old Australian trade paperback editions, above; I don't know if they'll use the same covers for the ebooks). I had no idea they weren't available until Alison Stuart happened to mention it on Facebook. So I did some investigating. You'd think the explanation would be simple; it wasn't. But the upshot is that the first two books in the series should be up sometime in January. That will still leave some books in the middle that aren't available in ebook form in Australia, but we're working on that. So, thank you, Alison!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

I've put my book completely away for the holidays and plan to spend the next ten days simply enjoying my family. My younger daughter is home from graduate school and my older daughter is home from San Antonio, so we will all be together this year.

My family has a long, multi-generation tradition of seriously overdoing it in the decorating department. I put up two villages, one under the tree (which is in my office):
And one on the buffet in the dining room:
I also put up two nativity scenes, including this one carved of olive wood by a Palestinian refugee from Bethlehem I befriended in Amman:
And every year, Danielle makes a gingerbread house. This year she was really ambitious; this monster is  almost 20" tall and took the better part of four days:
But the one who enjoys Christmas the most is Huck, who spends all his time under the tree and seriously mourns its departure by Twelfth Night:
Hope you all enjoy the holidays this season, whatever you do or don't celebrate!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I can't believe how long it's been since I put up an new blogpost. My excuse is that I've been focusing on getting this $#%& book finished in time for Christmas. But I've resigned myself to the fact that's not going to happen, and now I'm simply trying to get it to a good stopping point. Angel's been helping by draping himself over my arm while I'm trying to write.

I've decided to do the ARC giveaway for WHO BURIES THE DEAD after Christmas, when life will be more sane. Hope that doesn't disappoint anyone too much. I'll be putting up another post soon, I promise! Now back to work...

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Yes, it's really happening: Penguin is sending me on a book tour the first week of March, 2015, for the release of WHO BURIES THE DEAD. Here are the bookstores, cities, dates, and times:

Tuesday, March 3
6:00PM to 7:30 PM CT
Garden District Bookstore
2727 Prytania St. 
New Orleans, Louisiana

Wednesday, March 4
7:00 PM MT
Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd
Ste 101
Scottsdale, Arizona

Thursday, March 5
6:30 PM CT
Murder by the Book
2342 Bissonett Street
Houston, Texas

Friday, March 6
7:00 PM PT
Powell's City of Books
3415 Cedar Hills Blvd
Beaverton, Oregon

Saturday, March 7
12:00 PM PT
Seattle Mystery Bookshop
117 Cherry Street
Seattle, Washington

So what do you think? I think that at the end of that week, I'm going to be dead.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hurry and Enter to Win!

Hurry and enter to win a copy of the ARC for WHO BURIES THE DEAD on Goodreads     here . As of 9:00 New Orleans time, you have just five hours left to enter.

Sorry for the late notice but I only just found out about it myself. Thanks to Le Fleur for the tip.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Chance to Win Free Books!

Penguin's Binge Reads page on Facebook is running a big giveaway to promote the Sebastian St. Cyr Series. The idea is to put free books in the hands of readers who already love the series so that they can give the books to friends and relatives. Or as Penguin puts it:

"Mystery fans! We're looking for some of C.S. Harris's most rabid readers to help us recruit *new* fans for her amazing Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series. We'll choose 20 of you at random and send you each five copies of the very first book in the series, WHAT ANGELS FEAR, so you can share with friends and family who haven't read C.S. Harris before. Click the photo below to enter. (And please feel free to share on your own page!) U.S. fans only; must be 13 years or older." 

So if you want a chance to enter and you're on Facebook, here's the link to their page:

I was planning to do my own ARC giveaway for WHO BURIES THE DEAD today, but since I've just learned about this, I'll wait a few more days. Yes, that's right: no one told me in advance that this was happening.

I've also just learned that Sweepstakes (evidently the people who handle these for Penguin) will collect information when you enter, including your public profile, friend list, email address and "likes," so I understand totally if some are not comfortable with that.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WHY KINGS CONFESS Nominated for RT Reviewer's Choice Award

I've just heard Why Kings Confess has been nominated for RT's Reviewers Choice Award for Best Historical Mystery of 2014, which is nice.

I was gone most of this past week visiting my daughter in Texas (that's me with Zydeco, her latest rescue). I'd hoped to get the climax of #11 written before I left, but that didn't happen. So now I think I might go back and revise the rest of the book before I push through to the end. I do still intend to do the Who Buries the Dead ARC giveaway, but I'll have to do it later as this week is turning out to be a tad bit hectic. 

It was beyond wonderful to get to spend time with my daughter, who is a doctor with the Air Force in San Antonio. But I came home to a bunch of clingy, unhappy cats, a sick kitten, a pile of laundry, a dead landline, and my Internet access in disarray as everyone from Google to Facebook locked me out when I tried to log on from San Antonio. And now it is freezing here in New Orleans, which means dragging all the frangipani into the garage for the winter, and wrapping up vulnerable plants, and generally whining a lot.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

ALMOST Finished. Sort of.

I'm almost finished with the first draft of the eleventh Sebastian St. Cyr book.

Of course, finishing the first draft is a long ways from being "finished." I always have a lot of smoothing to do and missing scenes to write and general tidying up. Hopefully that won't take too long because the due date is barreling down on me. And I still don't have a title for this one, not even a working title, which is somewhat disconcerting.

Next week I hope to get organized enough to do the ARC giveaway for my blog readers. I'll also be doing one on my Facebook page at . So if you're on Facebook and you haven't "Liked" my page, be sure to do so!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I Wrote Zip Last Week

After years of putting it off, last week we finally had our upstairs air conditioner replaced. Turns out the old hvac closet is too small to meet new code regulations, which means the system had to be relocated to the attic. While we were at it, we decided to replace all the ducting, boxes, and vents (we've had mold issues ever since Katrina) and install a duct in the master bedroom closet since it gets hot enough in there in the summer to melt shoes. That meant I had to completely empty the closet (because, drywall dust and dirty workmen).
All those workmen in the house, opening up holes in the attic, pounding, ripping, sawing, dragging heavy equipment in and out, etc, meant I had to lock up cats. Huck and Angel were shut in my office, and Huck showed his displeasure by claiming my desk chair and giving me the evil eye every time I suggested I might want to type. Everyone else just howled.
And then, once the work was all finished, I had the joy of cleaning up and putting everything back in the closet (still working on that). What fun--not. Although I did find some things I'd forgotten about, including my childhood collection of dolls in native costume, added to every time we visited a new country or my dad was sent somewhere (he was in Intelligence). Of course I had to stop and play with that. I also decided to use the opportunity to try on everything with an eye to my upcoming March book tour (yes, it is happening; more on that when the dates are finalized).  That was also fun--not.
Between the galleys for the hardcover Who Buries the Dead and mass market Why Kings Confess, Scout's death, and now the hvac overhaul, it feels like ages since I wrote anything on this new book. To work.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Run Free, Little Girl

We lost Scout last night.

She managed to hang on for four months after Banjo had his final, fatal seizure. We knew she was deteriorating, but her slide has always been more gradual than his. When we first rescued them, Scout could scamper around (sort of) and eat and drink on her own. But she'd lost that ability shortly before Banjo died, so we knew it was only a matter of time.
Still, losing her last night was unexpected and a bit of a shock. I went in to check on her before dinner and knew as soon as I saw her that she was in trouble. She died in Steve's arms shortly before midnight.
We rescued our "shaky kitties" just over a year ago, on my birthday. It's been a very tough, very draining, and very emotional twelve months, and now it's over.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Advance Readers Copies!

My small box of Who Buries the Dead ARCs (advanced readers copies) has arrived. These are bound versions of the uncorrected page proofs that are given away for promotion. And I will be giving a copy away here (and another on Facebook) once I figure out how to do it.

It's always nice to see the ARCs because it means the book is that much closer to going on sale. And once again they've given me a full color ARC (as opposed to the horrible brown paper wrapper things I used to get). But the best part of all is this, from the back cover:

This is the Marketing Campaign information, which tells booksellers how well the publisher is going to support a book's release. And see what it says right up there at the top? Author tour! That's right; it looks as if they're actually, really going to send me on a book tour. They're finalizing the schedule.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A Life in Small Boxes

From the time I was seventeen until I was in my late thirties, I never lived anyplace longer than 18 months. After that, I started staying longer. But I always knew I'd be pulling up stakes again sooner or later. Sometimes my moves were simply across town. But often I was relocating across continents and oceans. And because I'm a sentimentalist (which is a nice way of saying I'm inordinately attached to my Stuff), I was always careful to keep the small boxes things came in so I could safely pack them for my next move or stash them in my parents' basement until I was in a position to retrieve them.
And so, long after I'd inadvertently lost contact with my high school friend Sue, I kept the box for the silver chamberstick she gave me as a graduation present. I kept the random box that nicely fit the two old blue-plate specials my grandmother gave me when I was eighteen (along with a lecture on the evils of gambling, for the plates were all that remained of a restaurant my grandfather lost at the turn of a card in 1928). I kept the box for the Wedgwood Peter Rabbit cereal bowl I bought my daughter in England her first Christmas; the box for the alabaster cat my mother sent for my thirty-fifth birthday when I was in Jordan.... You get the idea.
When I moved to New Orleans, I fully expected to relocate again in a couple of years. I put all those little boxes inside big dish packs and stuck them up in my attic. And this past weekend, as we were getting the attic ready for the A/C overhaul we're having done, I found them.

As I went through each and every little box to be certain they were all empty, I realized that here, in small boxes, was the story of my life: flimsy, half-crushed boxes for treasures from China and Egypt and Spain nestled next to little Brio train boxes and boxes for porcelain dollhouse sets with torn bits of Christmas paper still adhering to them. Then, a bit misty eyed, I hauled all those boxes out to the curb for the trash.
Yes, I will move at least one more time, probably in the next 3-5 years when Steve retires. But I don't need all those small boxes anymore. And while I know it says volumes about my stage in life, I'm not sure I'm ready to admit yet what that is.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The London of Sebastian St. Cyr: St. Helen's, Bishopsgate
As longtime readers of the Sebastian St. Cyr series know, Jamie Knox's tavern, the Black Devil, backs onto the churchyard of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate. 

St. Helen's still exists today, having come through both the Great Fire and the Blitz. In fact, it is the largest surviving church in the City of London. Built in the 13th century as part of a priory of Benedictine nuns, it contains twin naves once separated by a wall (the northern nave was for the nuns, with the adjoining nave for parishioners). After the Dissolution, the central wall was torn down and the other priory buildings repurposed rather than destroyed. It wasn't until 1799 that most of the other old monastic buildings disappeared.
Unfortunately, the church was badly damaged by IRA bombs in the 1990, when many of its famous interior monuments were lost and its huge medieval stained glass window shattered. It has since been repaired, but you can compare the above image of the interior with an old photograph, below.
Interestingly, St. Helen's was also the parish church of William Shakespeare when he lived in the area. Today, the old church is overshadowed by the looming modern skyscrapers around it. But a tiny part of its ancient churchyard remains.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bugsy. Again.

Bugsy's back, and all grown up now. Unfortunately, the parents of his little owner have decided they don't want him any more, so they gave him the boot.

He knew right where to come.

I've sent emails to two Louisiana no-kill rescue groups, which of course are all full. But both have promised to put him at the top of their waiting list, so I am hopeful. I'd be more hopeful if I didn't still have this little cutie (now four months old and bad, bad, BAD).

Can I just say, I really didn't need a rabbit?

Monday, September 22, 2014


The first pass page proofs--aka galleys--arrived last week. These are always exciting since it means a book is getting close to publication. In fact, the Advance Readers Copies should be available soon, and I'm thinking of running a contest to give one lucky reader a chance to win a copy.

I always read galleys very slowly because at this point, I've read the #@%$ thing so many times my brain sees what it expects to see and not what's actually on the page. I did find one terrifying error--I had written Queen Elizabeth when any fifth grader would know I meant Queen Mary. Oh, dear.

In other news, thanks to a continuing string of bad luck with anything that runs on electricity, we spent a small fortune at the Apple Store this past weekend. Not one of these shiny new toys is mine (although since I just got a new desktop when my last one died its spectacular death, I guess I really can't complain). I didn't think I wanted the new iPhone 6 until I saw Danielle's, but I now have a serious case of Phone Envy (That lovely screen! That incredible camera!). I need to drop mine.....

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


I just spent the past week immersed in two lovely books: The Morville Year and The Morville Hours, by Katherine Swift. Regular readers of this blog know that the eleventh book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, Untitled (yeah, the lack of a title starting to bug me), will see Sebastian and Hero and Simon traveling north to Shropshire (for reasons that will become more clear after you've read #10, Who Buries the Dead). One of the characters in the Shropshire book is a woman who lives in a dower house around which she has created a lovely garden. And in one of those marvelous accidents of fate, I was kicking around the Internet one day when I stumbled upon Swift, who has created a lovely garden around a National Trust dower house in Shropshire, and wrote two books about it. So of course I ordered them.

I was hoping they might prove to be useful research tools; what I didn't expect was to be swept away. These are enchanting books, full of all sorts of marvelous details about plants and birds and butterflies and bees, about the cycle of the seasons and folkways and ancient traditions, about life and history and country folk and one woman's intense love for the making of a garden.

You know a book has really touched you when you realize it has caused a shift in your thinking, a change in your outlook. My own garden has been hideously neglected this past year, with all of my weekends going to getting my mother's house ready to sell (closing this Thursday!!!!!!!!!). Neglect a garden in New Orleans and it will swallow your house. I've been feeling so oppressed and anxious about it that my attitude was destroying my joy in my garden (well, that plus New Orleans' brutal summer heat). Thanks to Swift, I've been able to let go that oppressive sense of, Oh, God, I should have cut back my roses by now! and It's almost time for the leaves to start falling again and I never finished picking up last year's! Yes, my garden's a mess. But I'm slowly bringing it back, and thanks to Swift, I find I can relax and enjoy the process of getting it there far more than I would have otherwise. Her gift to me.

Magical books.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Come September

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with September. As a child, September was irrevocably associated in my mind with back to school (I really, really hated school). I was very much a child of summer; I loved the long days of blue skies and golden light, of endless lazy hours spent reading or fishing or running through ripening hay fields with my dog.

But there were still things I loved about September. I’m a Libra, so September means my birthday (unfortunately not as welcome these days as it was at the age of ten or even twenty-one). All those years in Idaho, Oregon, and Colorado left me with a nostalgic yearning for crisp, wood smoke-scented mornings and the sight of frost-nipped trees blazing in brilliant scarlets and yellows against a fiercely blue Indian summer sky. But my favorite time of year was still summer.
When I moved to Adelaide, Australia, everything turned upside down. Suddenly, September meant spring, the beginning of a new year of growth coinciding with the beginning of my new year. In a sense, it was a perfect match. For a time.  Then I moved to New Orleans.

The summers of New Orleans aren’t the warm, balmy days of my childhood or even the hot, dry days lightened by cool breezy nights that made Adelaide so wonderful. Here, summers are a brutal thing to be endured, with an enervating heat and a level of humidity reminiscent of being smothered by a steaming wet towel. These days I spend summer dreaming of its end, the same way I once waited for the passing of the cold, dark days of a northern Idaho winter.
Except, of course, September in New Orleans is still ferociously hot. Not only that, but the most dangerous time for hurricanes is three weeks on either side of September 10th. So all through September, the first thing I do every morning is turn on my computer and look at the “Severe Weather” section of to see if anything is brewing out there. Ask me my favorite month these days, and I think I’d say...October. Or maybe April. April sounds good.

How about you? What’s your favorite time of year? Does it change depending on where you live?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Katrina Plus Nine

Nine years is a long time. Sometimes I feel as if Katrina happened to someone else, and I suppose that in a sense it did. I’ll never again be the woman I was on August 28, 2005. (Yes, Katrina hit on the 29th, but for me the most painful anniversary is the day before, the day we packed up and fled our city; by the time midnight rolled around, we knew we were doomed.). That woman, the B. K. one, was more carefree, more naive. Less anxious. Certainly less skilled in how to rebuild a house and restore flooded furniture.

She didn’t know how to gut a house with a wrecking bar or hang and finish drywall. She didn’t know—really know—just how thin the veneer of civilization is,  how quickly so many things she once took for granted--food, gas, police, firemen--could be torn away. Can be torn away. She’d never sat at the bedside of a loved one dying in a hospital with boarded up windows and no laundry service. She’d never had to bury someone at a cemetery in a small town up the river because the family mausoleum was still under water. She’d never looked at mile after mile of destroyed houses for so long that they started looking normal.

Every year, we go through this. The anniversary rolls around, and we remember, and then we try to forget. Last year, we spent Katrina Plus Eight without power as yet another hurricane took aim at New Orleans and didn’t seem to want to go away. At least this year when we raise our glasses in remembrance, we’ll be able to see what we’re doing.

Cheers, everyone.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sometimes, Life Sucks

It's been a bad week. I had a close encounter of the clumsy kind with a tree branch and tried to poke out my right eye. I'd show you the lovely picture of me with half the side of my face bandaged, but the Internets are forever, so it ain't gonna happen. The good news is that it will hopefully be all right in the end. But I haven't managed to get much done over the last ten days or so because eyes are rather important to a writer.  I was able to devote some of those hours I spent lying in a darkened room with my eyes closed to plotting out my next book, though, so it wasn't a complete loss.

And then, probably because I was so stressed, I came down with a nasty respiratory infection. (And don't even get me started on my mom's house!) Hopefully things will sort themselves out in a few days. In the meantime, that's a picture of Indie eating the manuscript for Sebastian # 11. Yes, he still doesn't have  home of his own, and this manuscript still doesn't have a title. Maybe September will be better.