Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!



We’re going to be on a minimal posting schedule through the New Year. Not a complete hiatus, but semi-regular postings, since many of us are traveling and trying to get a real break from the Interwebs. We’ll be back at full force January 2.

We truly appreciate that you take the time to stop by, to participate, to be a part of this fabulous community all year long. We value your input so much that we thought we’d throw the field open to you.

If you comment over the next week, you’ll be entered into our Festivus Contest!

And what, pray tell, may the glorious prize be for commenting? Why, a package of signed Murderati books, of course!

14 books from 14 authors.

Now that’s a deal.

Here’s what we want to know:

(answer as many as you wish, but only one answer is necessary to be included in the contest.)

 What are you doing for the holidays?

What are you reading?

What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?

What questions do you have for any or all of us?

 We wish you and your families the very best of holiday joy!

40 thoughts on “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas!

  1. Vicky McAulay

    I’m nearing the end of William Deverell"s "Kill All The Judges". One of the funniest, twisted, murder mysteries I’ve ever read. Highly recommended.

  2. Karen in Ohio

    I’m reading Olive Kitteredge and Bill Bryson’s Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

    And having a holly, jolly Christmas at family members’ homes. Which means I’m not cooking, for a change.

    Thank you all for exquisite writing, both in your books and here on Murderati. Have a joyous holiday season and a wonderful 2010.

  3. PK the Bookeemonster

    Merry Christmas to all of you. Thanks for being a daily read for me and for always being here, rain or shine.

    My husband and I don’t have kids, so we become the kids again and spend Christmas Eve with my parents and Christmas Day with his. I think most of the weekend for us after that will be spent relaxing and enjoying the time away from other obligations. No after-Christmas shopping for us. Maybe take in some movies.

    Reading wise, I’m spending my time between two, one is crime fiction, the other autobiography/essay: MURDER ON THE LONDON BRIDGE by Susanna Gregory and THE ELFISH GENE: dungeons, dragons and growing up strange by Mark Barrowcliffe (this guy could totally be my husband, same background except Barrowcliffe is English).

  4. JD Rhoades

    Reading one of my Christmas Gifts: BADASS, by Ben Thompson. It’s a compendium of the "Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live" . It’s one of those books that’s so hilariously written that IO keep interrupting everyone else to read passages from it. Book trailer at http://www.badassoftheweek.com/

    When I take a break from that, I’m picking up my new Annotated H.P. Lovecraft collection (Vol 2; I got Vol 1 last year). ‘Cause what’s Christmas without a little visit from Great Cthulhu ?

  5. Robin of My Two Blessings

    Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for all the wonderful stories you write, your wit and wisdom that you share all year long.

    We are relaxing at home and enjoying each others company for the next three days. I’m reading Dune, hubby is reading the irreverent Denis Leary book I gave him for Christmas and son is enjoying playing his wii games. I can’t think of any topics right now. You guys do such a good job of covering a wide spectrum of topics.

    Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a blessing writing new year!!!

  6. Sylvia

    What I’m Reading over Christmas Break
    First and foremost I’m reading Murderati. Even if it is a limited publishing schedule, I have to get my fix. Yes, I’m a Murderati addict and no, I have not yet notified the local authorities of this fact.

    I’m breaking my reading down into a variety of categories hoping for bonus points here for being organized:

    Manuals and Rule Books from the Christmas bonanza including the Wii, Motorized Marble Run, Trouble, Uno and let’s just say yes, Zhu Zhu Pets. Thank goodness for gift cards from family members and work that made Santa appear yet again another year. Thankfully, clothing does not require reading instructions except the tag for washing.

    Reading for Work: Yes, work. Bah. I’ve cleared over 30 emails today and between now and Sunday have another 30+ to clear depending on what blows up. I know somewhere in the pile of papers on my desk is a nasty white paper and research that must be read and digested. Send Pepto as I’ll need it.

    Pleasure: Now for the fun part… The Hidden Man by David Ellis. I started last night and so far, so good! Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg in case I need squishy reading. I’m re-reading parts of Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley and his excellent use dialogue and sport to move the story along. Finally, I have Black Water Rising by Attica Locke that I plan on starteding Tuesday or Wednesday.

    I also pimped books on a site for Louise and Cornelia (among others) when a reader asked for some mysteries to download on the Kindle. Hey, a girl has to make recommendations when asked, doesn’t she?? Feel free to recommend some of your own.

  7. Sylvia

    Questions for the Murderati Crew

    C’mon, really? You share so much as it is. OK, you asked for it. Each of the Murderati peeps should be able to answer each of the questions with ease and in some cases a bit of embarrassment:

    1. Boxers, briefs, thongs, bikinis, hipsters or none?
    2. What would you like for your last meal?
    3. What was your first pet and his or her name?
    4. What is the worst lie your parents ever told you?
    5. What’s your favorite curse word?
    6. What animal do you fear the most? (Must have experience and not just fantasy)
    7. Does it piss you off to see your book in a clearance bin?
    8. What is your definition of hell on earth?
    9. As an author, what question are you asked the most that you refuse to answer or defect the answer?
    10. What 10 questions do you most want to know about your readers, or us, the commenters?

  8. Sylvia

    On the above – question #9 should be deflect not defect… unless you do in fact physically run when the particular question is asked.

  9. JJ Dennis

    Thank you all so much for this tasty blog! Like so many others, I am a complete Murderati junkie. I pimp the site out whenever I can. I have to work on Saturday, so I’m relaxing today & visiting the family mob on Sunday. Currently, I’m reading Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things (the P.S. version which has all of these great fun facts and extra tidbits about each short story). As for topics, I’m interested in what everyone’s goals are, and if you get treats for succeeding/punished for slacking. I would also like to know everyone’s favorite and least favorite book and why.

    Happy holidays everyone!

  10. Sara Hantz

    I’m nearing the end of The Perfect Couple by Brenda Novak, and working all over the holidays as we own a motel, though still have found time to celebrate with family.

    Happy Holidays. Thanks so much for such an awesome blog, it’s one of my favorites.

  11. Sandi Lewis

    I’m reading "A Breath of Snow and Ashes" by Diana Gabaldon. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time but needed time to absorb it with little interruption. That time is now!! Although it’s been over a year since I read the last book in the series, I remember just about every character and event that happened in the other books in the series.

    I usually read mysteries and thrillers but it is now time for an historical story.

    I usually check into your blog at least once a week, sometimes more.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Thanks everyone, for your comments! I’ve been reading them throughout the day. I can’t wait to address some of the questions in future posts!
    I’m re-reading Chuck Palahnuik’s "Fight Club" for the third time. And doing rewrites from my editor’s notes on my sequel to Boulevard. I’ll relax next Christmas!

  13. Fran

    For the holidays, we stayed home. Tomorrow, I go back to selling books, which is always fun!

    I just started Kelli Stanley’s "City of Dragons", and so far? WOW!

    Topics for the New Year and things to cover? Whatever intrigues you, because if it interests you, the blog posts are always fascinating!

    Merry and Happy to all, and enjoy your time off. But be aware that I’ll be one of the many just casually dropping by several times a day to see if there’s anything new under the blogging Christmas tree!

  14. Zoë Sharp

    Happy Holidays everybody!

    I was hoping to add a pic of the sphinx snowman to yesterday’s blog, but we have the wrong kind of snow to finish snowman building – too powdery to sculpt.

    I’m more writing than reading at the moment, although a UK ARC of SJ Rozan’s THE SHANGHAI MOON – called TRAIL OF BLOOD over here – has just arrived, so that will be next on my TBR pile. Apart from that, I’ve been dipping into Andy’s Christmas copy of the Viz annual. And if you haven’t come across it, I really can’t explain here what that is!

    Loved Sylvia’s questions, so here are my answers:

    1. Boxers, briefs, thongs, bikinis, hipsters or none?
    Hmm, interesting that this is the first thing you want to know about us! Can I just say it involves satin and lace?

    2. What would you like for your last meal?
    Really good sushi.

    3. What was your first pet and his or her name?
    A Siamese cat called Mingulay.

    4. What is the worst lie your parents ever told you?
    That when the ice cream van plays music, it means they’ve run out of ice cream.

    5. What’s your favorite curse word?

    6. What animal do you fear the most? (Must have experience and not just fantasy)

    7. Does it piss you off to see your book in a clearance bin?
    No, because it means someone who might not have bought it otherwise, might take a flyer on it at a discount price and then, hopefully, will be encouraged to seek out the next one at full-up money.

    8. What is your definition of hell on earth?
    Trying to hand-sell books to an audience who aren’t remotely interested? Karaoke? A Saturday night out in just about any large UK city? Reality TV? I could go on … and on … ;-]

    9. As an author, what question are you asked the most that you refuse to answer or defect the answer?
    "How much money do you make?" Vulgar to ask, even more vulgar for other people to tell you how much money *they* make without being asked…

    10. What 10 questions do you most want to know about your readers, or us, the commenters?
    What aspects of crime novels you enjoy the most? Or hate the most? What makes you stop reading? What grabs you most about the flap copy for a book? What turns you off most about the flap copy for a book? And if it’s my readers personally, are there any aspects of my series character that you’re getting tired of? Or want to see explored further? Do you consider anything off limits?

    Hey, there are probably a load more, but it’s Christmas Day and my brain is either full or empty. Can’t decide which.

    Have fun, folks!

  15. David

    I just finished reading Ravens by George Dawes Green (and can’t figure out why I just got to it now. I bought it when it first came out. It was definitely worth waiting for, but then I really didn’t have to). One of the best of 2009.

    And just discovered the Bryant and May books by Christopher Fowler. Again, what took me so long.

    And I didn’t get one book for Christmas.


  16. Eika

    Well, let’s take this one by one.

    What am I doing over the holidays? I’m basking in a quiet glow of love and joy. I only got three gifts that weren’t clothes. My sister made me a purse; I was given a video game I don’t want too much but will help me keep my sister out of my hair; and a watch. My grandmother’s watch. It must be at least 50 years old. It’s gold-plated, and winds up, and the face is small enough that it doesn’t annoy me when I’m moving my wrist. Incredible. I’m also working, because I have a college education to pay for, and will be trying to edit my novel and write a query letter for it.

    What am I reading? Old favorites, for the most part. I’m in shock; I didn’t get ANY books this season, and due to my job I won’t be able to get to the library often enough to avoid fines. But I’ll be studying craft and technique while doing my reading; I really look up to those authors.

    What would I like you to cover in the New Year? Courage. Writing is fine, editing is fine, but writing a query letter makes my stomach feel funny and my heart beat in my chest. It’s one thing to make myself as good as I can be; it’s another to think it’s good enough for outside eyes. I want some help with that.

    No questions for all of you, though. You’re doing just fine.

  17. Chris Hamilton

    What are you doing for the holidays?

    As little as possible. Writing as much as possible. Once the kids are back in school, it gets a lot harder to find time.

    What are you reading?
    U is for Undertow, then The Professional by Robert B. Parker. I’m also looking forward to Julie Compton’s new book, due out in February.

    What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?
    Some as you already do. It’s a great grab bag of interesting topics. If anything, it would be neat to know more about how the blog came to be and what you’ve done to market it.

    What questions do you have for any or all of us?
    What is the most difficult thing for you to write about?

  18. Becky LeJeune

    I’m reading Cherie Priest’s Eden Moore series at the moment and really enjoying it. I have two more days off (the weekend) and am hoping to do absolutely nothing but read — and maybe bake. We’ll see.

  19. Jemi Fraser

    I’m enjoying a wonderful holiday – hosting lots of dinners and family & friends. We’ve got enough food to feed small villages 🙂

    I’m currently reading "Pretty is as Pretty Dies" by Elizabeth Spann Craig – it’s an awesome cozy mystery with a fabulous main character. LOTS of fun!

    Hope you all have a wonderful holiday 🙂

  20. billie

    We are home for the holidays, which is our usual tradition. It became easier to maintain once we moved to the farm where it is nearly impossible to find someone, even a well-paid someone, who can/will do all the stuff that gets done around here to feed and care for horses, donkeys, cats, and dog.

    Right now I’m finishing up Julia Glass’s I See You Everywhere. Next up is John Crowley’s Little, Big, unless something else piled by my bed snags my attention when it comes time to move my bookmark to a new book.

    I never tire of reading about writing process and craft, which is what lured me here to begin with! It’s especially interesting to read how these aspects change for all of you as you grow and change as writers.

    The only question I can think of has to do with the nature of the publishing industry and the changes that seem to be coming. Many of you have tackled that topic early on but I’m curious what your take is as we move into 2010. As published authors in various stages of careers in publishing, are you being encouraged to do things differently? What shifts, if any, are you seeing "from the inside?"

    Thanks for providing this place, the wonderful discussion and just plain fun, and for all the books! Happy holidays to everyone at Murderati – a day late, but in good spirit… 🙂

  21. Sylvia

    Zoë – I love your questions to us… I’m not sure if we should answer here or wait for blog entry in the new year with an M. Crew post… what they heck, answering here:

    What aspects of crime novels you enjoy the most?
    Great dialogue, movement that carries the story without boring the reader, learning something new be it about law, criminal process, people or professions.

    Or hate the most?
    Tell, tell, tell instead of show, show, show. The ping-pong game of flashbacks.

    What makes you stop reading?
    So many characters shoved into scenes at one time that you can’t tell who is who. I only retruned one book to the library this year without finishing it and it was due to this. Yes, I’m a glutton for punishment in that I read some pretty bad books to the end.

    What grabs you most about the flap copy for a book?
    When I get a quick sense of what the conflict is, era and characters in the story.

    What turns you off most about the flap copy for a book?
    When it is too much about the author … "In XYZ’s latest wonderful and rich writing …" and not about the characters or the storyline.

    And if it’s my readers personally, are there any aspects of my series character that you’re getting tired of? Or want to see explored further?
    I’m new to your books so I can’t say of any yet!

    Do you consider anything off limits?
    Extreme details about child abuse. I’m fine with offing cats though.

  22. Stacy McKitrick

    What are you doing for the holidays? I’m spending it at home with my family. Our dear friend is visiting from Columbus, loves to cook, so I don’t have to!

    What are you reading? "Dexter by Design" by Jeff Lindsay

    I’ve enjoyed reading this blog for the past year or so. And to think I found you by accident. It was the best accident ever! Keep up the good work.

  23. TerriMolina

    What are you doing for the holidays?
    Nothing special. My oldest moved back to Houston and couldn’t afford to come home so we were minus one, but Christmas was still nice.

    What are you reading?
    Nothing yet, I’m kinda out of new books. All the ones I bought were sent to my son for Christmas.

    What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?
    I dunno, I enjoy all the topics you all feel the need to talk about. =)

    What questions do you have for any or all of us?
    If you couldn’t write in your genre anymore, what other genre would you choose?
    What turns you off more? A bad plot or unlikeable characters?

    Have a wonderful and safe New Year’s Everyone!

  24. Rae

    Happy Holidays to all, and what a fun set of questions….

    What are you doing for the holidays? This was the fourth year of a fabulous new tradition – I spend the week before Christmas Week on a beach in Florida. By the time I get back to the Left Coast, all stress has evaporated and I’m ready to enjoy mellow Christmas and New Year weeks. I’m seeing friends, watching great old movies, eating yummy food and drinking yummy wine. It’s all good.

    What are you reading? Just finished "Faces of the Gone", a great debut novel by Brad Parks. Have no idea what’s up next – I’ll just reach into the stack and pull something out.

    What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year? No specific topics – I like the variety you all cover now, and the different viewpoints everyone brings to the conversations.

    What questions do you have for any or all of us? Too full of the aforementioned yummy food and wine to really think of anything coherent 😉 But thanks for all the fun this past year….

  25. judy wirzberger

    I’m going to read (and revise) the snynopsis and query for Secrets and Other Lies. Next year is my year. I believe this as firmly as my grandchildren believe in Santa Claus. (and next year I’ll have time to read all fourteen books – some for the second time.) Happy New Year to all! — there, I’ve used my 2010 allotment of exclamation points.

  26. BCB

    Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it! And wishing the peace and joy of the season to all of you who blog and comment (and lurk).

    My daughter is home from college and I’ve decided I’m not even going to try to write while she’s here. She’s very distracting on her own (in a nice way), but put her and her brother together in the same room and hilarity ensues. And then their friends come over. Yes, I could tell them not to speak to me for hours at a time, but I don’t want to.

    So I’m trying to read, now that the shopping and baking gods have been satisfied with my sacrifices. Several books at once, including a few from this group (would LOVE to have 14 more!). I’m going to have to find that first one JD mentioned and add it to the stack.

    Topics. I struggle with this on my own blog and I hate to give you a glib answer to what I’m sure is a serious question. But you all pretty consistently write about things it would never even occur to me to ask, so probably I’m not a good one to be making suggestions. One of the things I appreciate over here is the variety of topics and voices and perspectives. And the pictures are fabulous. It seems you try to avoid addressing the same topic, but when you do it’s interesting to get a different take on it. I’m convinced every single one of you could write about about the same thing and I’d learn something new and fascinating from each.

    BTW, Zoe, I loved the snow and ice pictures! The little snowmen all bunched in a group look like Peeps. Do you have those over there? (Globs of a resilient foamy substance often appearing at Easter time in the vague shape of ducks and bunnies dyed in realistic fluorescent colours and which some people mistakenly decide is edible.)

    Sheesh. I’m rambling. Can you tell I have nothing I’m supposed to be doing today? What a nice feeling. Maybe I’ll go read.

    Best wishes to all of you in the coming year!

  27. Catherine Shipton

    I’ve had my adult children home for the last few days. My youngest daughter’s boyfriend has also been here since Christmas night.I trashed them at Trouble. So far I’ve only won one UNO game, so not total suckage,but close. An amazing amount of laughter has been our base line standard so far.

    Lychees, mint, vodka and crushed ice is very refreshing in an Australian summer.

    We’ve caught up with other family and had some friends over last night for Boxing Day. Present wise we all made out like bandits. I didn’t get a book as such, but I am happy that I have a book gift voucher.

    My preferred reading is to be able to start Peter Temples, TRUTH. It can wait till the girls leave though. I also have this 1500 word essay to write within the next week.So the pile of other books I want to read may have to wait till that’s submitted.

    ‘In the context of the current global financial crisis, analyse and assess the ethics
    of recent corporate behaviour in relation to the payment of bonuses and other
    ‘incentives’ to corporate executives and directors.’

    I think I might end up going to the State Library at some stage to cruise around for an ethical framework that doesn’t make me want to gag, and or laugh out loud. I’m finding it hard to focus on the academic writing style as I’d like to go off on a tangent with characters that met satisfying ends…

    I have no driving ‘need to be answered’ type questions for you all. I like how the posts ebb and flow from whatever is happening in your lives.

    I do hope your holidays are all that you wish for.

  28. kit

    Merry Christmas to all of you! Our state is basically shut down becasue of snow and blizzard conditions.
    We celebrated an early Christmas on the weekend of the 12 & 13….we had just enough snow then to make it white but not as much as now to make it dangerous to travel…it was great to see our kids from Louisiana….and given the fact, our son in law, was born and raised in Houma….it’s quite a difference for him. We did a bit of mixing it up…we all love to cook..so we all contributed.

    I’m re-reading Stieg Larsson’s GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO & THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, I also have some PD Tracy for when I finish.

    Thank you for the time you take to answer questions, make these blogs informative, and just generally interesting…hope you all have a great NEW YEAR< take care, kit

  29. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Love these responses – we should do this every end of the year.

    Sylvia asks some pointed questions… I’ll bite, too.

    1.Boxers, briefs, thongs, bikinis, hipsters or none?

    No underwear, lace bras.

    2. What would you like for your last meal?

    I’ll drink it, thanks…

    3. What was your first pet and his or her name?

    A kitten I found, Pats. I was a year and a half and that’s my first memory.

    4. What is the worst lie your parents ever told you?

    Whoa, that’s deep. It was a lie of omission – no one ever mentioned that a grandparent was completely insane. But I’m not really sure they ever admitted it to themselves.

    5. What’s your favorite curse word?

    Fuck, absolutely!

    6. What animal do you fear the most? (Must have experience and not just fantasy)

    Sharks. I’ve only encountered small, non-scary ones in person but I think watching JAWS as many times as I have counts as experience…

    7. Does it piss you off to see your book in a clearance bin?

    I don’t care how people read me as long as they read me.

    8. What is your definition of hell on earth?

    Child molestation.

    9. As an author, what question are you asked the most that you refuse to answer or defect the answer?

    Where do you REALLY live? (Come on, what stranger asks that of a woman in public?)

    10. What 10 questions do you most want to know about your readers, or us, the commenters?

    1. Who’s your biggest author crush?

    2. What would you specifically do with them if you got them alone and willing?

    3. Who’s your biggest agent or editor crush? (Hah. I double dare you…)

    4. What’s your favorite sex scene in a book?

    Hmm, these are all sex questions. Is that wrong? Okay, other topics…

    5. What one book have you reread more than any other?

    6. What’s the worst thing you ever did at a conference or convention? (Or what’s your biggest fear of something you might do at a conference or convention?)

    7. What is the one quality that keeps you from being all the writer you could be?

    8. What is the one book you wish you had written?

    9. What would be your dream job if you couldn’t be a writer?

    10. What do you believe you were put on earth to do?

  30. toni mcgee causey

    Kit, we’re at a crisp… ah… 50 right now. And our son’s up in Colorado, at something like 18 degrees as I write this, with a boatload of snow to deal with. We had a great time visiting the snow, but wow, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that all winter.

    Love the answers and questions that everyone’s posting. I’ll answer some and ask some tomorrow morning.

  31. Cathy

    A few days off meant time to tackle the enormous To Be Read pile
    This week finished
    Perfect Family – Pam Lewis
    Tempting Evil – Allison Brennan
    Tried for the third time to get into Ridley Pearson’s Sun Valley series – sigh – love the Seattle series but…
    Started The Eight – Catherine Neville last night
    And while I don’t usually – okay never – read historical romance, Kris Kennedy is a friend so I’m about halfway through The Conqueror
    As for the rest, family is great – good times over the holdiays.
    Sleeping is overrated

  32. Stephen D. Rogers

    What are you doing for the holidays?
    Visiting with family.

    What are you reading?
    Just finishing THE TALENTED MR. RIPLY

    What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?
    As SHOT TO DEATH, my short story collection, is being published in Feb, I’d like to see some ideas for quick-and-dirty promotion.

    What questions do you have for any or all of us?
    If you could write something under another name that would never be linked back to you and would never hurt your numbers in any way, what would it be?

    Happy holidays.


  33. Colette

    Hi, I’m relatively new here, but couldn’t resist the urge to try to win your wonderful prize!

    What are you doing for the holidays?
    The usual… adult-sized kids are home, Christmas Eve with family, later Christmas day went to see "Up In The Air".

    What are you reading?
    Tess Gerritsen’s "The Sinner". (No, I’m not expecting that will get me extra points).

    What topics would you like us to cover in the New Year?
    You do a great job at this already (that’s why I keep coming back).

    What questions do you have for any or all of us?
    Do you all know each other outside of this blog? How did you come to work on this site together?

  34. Neil Littell

    Come gather round ye olde Festivus Pole!

    What are you doing for the holidays?
    I’m having fun with my family and staying warm by drinking warm stuff.

    What are you reading?
    I am reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

    What questions do you have for any or all of us?
    I would like to know if Tess knows when the Rizzoli pilot will launch! Oooo, I can’t wait!


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