Saturday, September 26, 2009

Archy McNally Series

I have a fun new discovery - new to me anyway. I'd be curious to know if anyone reading has already heard of these books, and what you think.

My dad shares my same love of series mystery, and we're both big fans of Robert B. Parker, Rex Stout, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, and others. He's been telling me about this series for AGES - how much he loved it, how funny it was, how much he liked the main character...the only thing he couldn't tell me was the name of the author, the titles of the series, or the name of the main character. He just knew he'd read these great books once upon a time.

Finally, over Labor Day weekend, he finally remembered "McNally". After that, it was pretty easy to track down, thanks to the internet.

The series turned out to be the Archy McNally series, by Lawrence Sanders (and later, Vincent Lardo)

McNally's Secret is the first book of the series, and I'll tell you, I was hooked. It's got everything I love: A great main character, fun sidekick, colorful guest characters, good mystery, interesting detective work, and a lot of little details that bring Archy to life.

Archy is a 37 year old bachelor who lives in Palm Beach, Florida. His family is reasonably wealthy, and he occupies a suite of rooms on the third floor of his parents house. He also works for his father. The elder McNally is a lawyer with a stable of insanely wealthy clients who often make unusual demands of him. Archy is the head (and sole employee) of the Department for Discreet Inquiries. He handles all those unusual requests, and generally solves problems. He also generally trips across a body or two in the process.

I'm on the third one now, and I'm still enjoying the series (I've been inspired to try several new cocktails) - but I will say, it's taught me a lesson in not belaboring those little details. I'm about done hearing that Archy's father has his telephone books bound in leather. It's in every book. It's possible that my patience for some of this will run out before the books do, but I doubt it - I'm pretty forgiving if the mystery is good.

Over all - from what I've read so far, I'd recommend this series to anyone who likes fun, slightly fluffy, but genuine mysteries.

McNally's Secret. Putnam's, 1992
McNally's Luck. Putnam's Sons, 1992
McNally's Risk. Putnam's Sons, 1993
McNally's Caper. Putnam's Sons, 1994
McNally's Trial. Putnam's Sons, 1995
McNally's Puzzle. Putnam's Sons, 1996
McNally's Gamble. Putnam's Sons, 1997
*McNally's Dilemma. Putnam's Sons, 1999
McNally's Folly. Putnam's Sons, 2000
McNally's Chance. Putnam's Sons, 2001
McNally's Alibi. Putnam's Sons, 2002
McNally's Dare. Putnam's Sone, 2003.
McNally's Bluff. Putnam's Sone, 2004.

*After the death of Lawrence Sanders in 1998, Vincent Lardo was chosen by the Sanders estate to continue the McNally series.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Finds!

I have a few things today that aren't really new. In fact, a lot of people have probably seen them before, but they bear linking.

I've known about yWriter for a few years now, and even downloaded and tried it. I couldn't figure it out. The layout and the functions just didn't make sense to me, so I abandoned it and went back to Word.

Now, I have discovered Page Four, which is a similar program, but looks more straightforward and simple. So, I'm going to give that a try.

ADDITION: I have actually tried it now, and I can say that it's a good program, but I'm not sure it's for me. For one thing, an unlimited version costs $39.95 - a perfectly reasonable amount of money, but still a tad higher than I am willing to pay if I can do the same thing elsewhere with software I've already purchased.

It has a very nice system of Notebooks and Pages, and is very nice for organizing the parts of a novel. It also has a few writerly bells and whistles, such as the ability to scan for repetitive words, etc.

However, in the limited version (which is free to use for all time and does not expire) you can only have three notebooks and 20 pages (I'm not sure if that's 20 total or 20 per notebook). I managed to just about fill that to capacity just importing the two novels I'm working on now. I also just felt a little....uncomfortable about working on anything in there, simply because I'm not used to it and what if I lose or destroy my novel?

On the other hand - I think it might serve me very well as a tool to organize research, editing notes, and things like chapter lists.

Author Storm Grant found this useful tool for writers: which will tell you the frequency of any word in a body of text.

Sarah Simas posted over at Mama Writers with a Show and Tell style run-down of her organizational tricks when working on a novel.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Elle is a Fangirl

I am a fangirl, I admit it. I've always been a fangirl, since way back when I watched Emergency! as a kid. I LOVE series TV, I can't help it. Just as I love books in series, I love the excitement of tuning in every week to see what my favorite characters are up to.

And really, that's what it is for me - the characters. I will happily watch the crappiest, cheesiest TV shows imaginable if I love the characters (The A-Team anyone? Wonderful, marvelous cheese!)

So this is it! This is the week most of the shows are premiering for the season, and it's like a holiday for me. I looked up the dates AGES ago so I wouldn't miss them. When I say them, I usually mean 2-4 shows tops. That's about the limit of what I can follow at any given time and still have a life.

I've already gotten my Leverage fix, at least until winter - they're already on hiatus again.

So this week there are two big premieres I'm excited about. My whole family is, actually, we watch these as a family activity and have a lot of fun discussing and debating.

NCIS - We've been fans of this one since half-way through the first season. The characters are wonderful, and the stories are interesting and fun. I was confused and less than deeply thrilled with the season ender from last year, so I don't know what to expect for this season. And I'm okay with that. I suspect they'll have to give another nod to the new NCIS. I doubt we'll be getting into that one.

And the REALLY exciting one, the one I'm just panting for is Criminal Minds. I LOVE this show, with its complex characters and dark, dark subject matter. Last season? They nearly killed me. They ENDED THE SEASON with a gunshot and a black screen!! How was I supposed to survive that? One of my favorite characters was on the receiving end of that shot, and I still don't know what's happened to him. (If you know, DON'T tell me). This could go several ways, and I'm dying to see what they do with it!

What are your favorites at the moment?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Website Update

I spent much of today working with my wonderful web designer, DC, and we've made several great updates to my website.

The most exciting part is several new reviews for Like Coffee and Doughnuts, including Jessewave, Joyfully Reviewed, Manic Readers, CoffeeTime Romance and The Romance Studio.

There's also some new announcements on the side bar, and pic from WriterCon that I attended at the beginning of August.

Coming up this week, I'll be quest blogging at the Lyrical Press Blog on Friday.

And finally, I'd like to take a minute to say again how wonderful and talented my web designer is. She's also always on the lookout for new clients, so if you're in the market for an inexpensive but classy looking site, contact Laurie of Dawn Chaser Web Designs at

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Finds!

Here's a few Friday Finds for you. I've been saving them up as I find them, and now I just have to remember where I put them all.

Here's an article on backing up your social media, with bonus links to ones on backing up Google Docs and Gmail: How to back up your social media accounts

Some extra info on Maximizing Google Alerts - with a few things I hadn't thought of.

Some Synopsis Dos and Don'ts from the RedLines and Deadlines

For Firefox users: 15 useful Firefox extensions for bloggers

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Still Thrashing

Thrashing indeed!

I'm STILL struggling to get caught up, but I have made progress. (Google Reader is now only at 215!)

It feels like more of a struggle than usual, because what's really going on is I'm trying to get everything else taken care of so I can focus on what I really want to be doing - finishing my second novel.

I've finally gotten the house cleaned up, and I revised and sent back a short story, did a review (my last for a while until I get the book done), and done the whole family/job/life-aside-from-writing thing.

Part of the reason I'm doing everything that I'm at a tough spot with the novel. I had the main plot completely outlined AGES ago, but as I've merrily written along, it's become clear that this is going to get me nowhere NEAR word count. So I needed to craft a subplot that worked with the main story, and wasn't just an add on. I've done that, and have been working on weaving the subplot into the manuscript before I continue forward.

It's slow going. And to make matters worse, I'm under a HUGE amount of self-imposed pressure on this one. I SHOULD have had this finished and submitted months ago, but one look at the state of this blog and you can guess my summer plans went awry.

Getting back on the horse isn't easy, especially when you're pressed for time.

How do you keep your focus and get your writing done when you know the clock is ticking?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beginning or end?

I am working my way though my woefully neglected Google Reader (1000+)(and it took a LoooooNG time to get below that 1K, too!), and I just passed a post at Dear Author that had a poll: Do you like the beginning or the end of the book the best?

Now, I'll admit, I didn't stop to read the post. The first thing that popped into my head was:

I like the middle the best.

My favorite part of just about any book I've ever read is the middle section, when you're knee deep in the action, you know the characters well enough to care about them, and there's a lot of story left to go. I usually have to struggle a bit at the beginning, getting a sense of place and who the story is about; and towards the end, I'm racing through to find out what happens, but also painfully aware that my time with these characters is coming to an end and there will be no more.

The middle is the happy place where we're all good friends with nothing but time on our hands. The middle is often the place where you will get lots of details and the wonderful little everyday, slice of life scenes. You get a lot of the comic relief scenes there too, when you need a pause between the intro of the PLOT, and the climax when everything comes to a head. (This is why I like series so much - you get WHOLE BOOKS worth of "middle")

What about you? What's your favorite part of a book?