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March 22, 2008

Strike Three! But I'm not Out Yet!

Strike Three! But I’m not Out Yet.

TLC NOTE: Mary Jane Maffini is the author of the three mystery series and nearly two dozen short stories. She is also the former president of The Crime Writers of Canada. (There's a frosty bunch, eh?) Her latest book - The Cluttered Corpse - featuring professional organizer/sleuth Charlotte Adams, will be published by Berkley April 1. Enjoy!

By Mary Jane Maffini

I was so excited to be invited to guest blog on The Lipstick Chronicles last fall. What a great group of Mj_maffini mystery writers to rub cyber-shoulders with. I got down to work immediately. Things were going fabulously until my protagonists went on strike. Can you believe that?  All three of them! I was sandbagged. I think they got the idea from the writers. I knew I should have kept that damned TV turned off. Anyway, this labor conflict came out of nowhere and it seems like it’s been dragging on forever. I figured once the writers settled, the protagonists would come crawling back, but so far, no such luck.

I realize I should never have made Camilla MacPhee a lawyer. She’s the one who drew up the list of demands. And I imagine that snoopy little Charlotte Adams is getting them all organized. No doubt Fiona Silk is topping up their snifters of Courvoisier. If they’re not careful, she could burn down their house of cards.

Honestly, if they put half that effort into solving the crimes I set out for them, we could all retire. How could these people band together and turn against me?  Didn’t I give them life, love interests, jobs, pets, families? One of them even has a fabulous wardrobe, and I nearly always replace her designer shoes when disasters happen. Now it seems the three of them think everything is all about them. Frankly, I find it surprising that they were able to work together to form a so-called “guild’. It’s not like they have anything in common besides being single women who are inclined to stumble over cadavers and mess up their love lives in the process. I mean, is that my fault? What happened to taking responsibility for your own actions?

Luckily I had some scenes in draft form for my new book, Death Loves Your Messy Desk or I’d be up Messy_desk the familiar creek with my deadline. Even so, I’ll have to do something soon. I still can’t see how I can meet their outrageous terms and stay in business. I’m not running a charity here.

I know, you’d think I could count on the sidekicks for enough scenes to make a book, but they’ve standing behind the protagonists. Won’t cross the picket line. Some people can’t recognize opportunity banging on the door. Even my series proposal featuring one of them was met with stony stares. Honestly, what fan wouldn’t read The World’s Worst Office Assistant Mysteries?

In case you think I’m being unreasonable: take a gander at this list of demands:

·         Working conditions: maximum of three bodies to deal with in any given book

No midnight graveyard runs without back-up, no garbage dumpsters, abandoned mines, burning houses, nothing with Semtex, absolutely no children.

·         Equipment: no cell phones with dying batteries, no flat tires on lonely roads, no doors that lock behind you.

·         Overtime: Time and a half off for threatening phone calls, break-ins or personal physical attacks between the hours of midnight and six a.m.

·         Personal time: The right to a continuing stable relationship without recourse to the intensive care unit, arrest, or harassment from fictional relatives. In addition, no lovers will be permitted to turn into murderers.

·         Health: maximum one concussion per series

Oh puleeze, grow up. What author can live with these conditions? Now I’m stuck. I have to do everything myself. All to say, I’ll get back to the blog after I’ve visited the morgue and checked out the cemetery at midnight. 

Thanks for your patience!


Mary Jane Maffini’s latest books are Too Hot to Handle and The Cluttered Corpse.


Also - SPECIAL ALERT!!! - Award-winning, nationally bestselling author JOSHILYN JACKSON will be blogging here Tuesday, March 25th and talking about her fantastic new book THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING. Make sure to stop on by!


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After you've gone down to the dark cellar to retrieve the flashlight you left there the last time you heard a funny noise.

No concussions? But that still leaves you stabbings, poisonings, random gunshots, rabid raccoons--the possibilities are endless!

Mary Jane---I'm going out to buy your series ASAP! The books sound marvelous. Thanks so much for being our guest here at TLC.

What a terrific surprise to see you here, Mary Jane - I'm a fan, although you can't tell from my office, which, according to my family, bears a striking resemblance to William F. Buckley's..

For anyone who wants any of Mary Jane Maffini's books, here's the link to the bookstore - tell them Rebecca sent you:


Mary Jane -- welcome and great blog topic! It's timely because this condescending little piece by Janet Maslin just appeared in the NYT, suggesting that all mysteries/thrillers share just a few stock plot devices:


Nasty, nasty! And yet there's some truth to it, isn't there? On occasion we all fall victim to plot devices that we've picked up from other books or movies rather than from astute observation of real life. So it's nice to see a list of them here as a reminder of what to avoid. Your characters have a point.

Welcome, Mary Jane. And her fans may not know this, but not only is Mary Jane a fine and funny writer, she has very cool shoes.

Cool shoes? You're one of us, Mary Jane.

Michele, if you are still snowbound and want to shop for cool shoes, try Zappos.com. Free shipping and free returns with 12 months to return them. I love cools shoes and can't pass up a shoe store or department. Ran into Nordstrom last night to get cosmetics and ended up with a new pair of shoes! Carole Nelson Douglas's Temple Barr, in the Midnight Louie series, also has very cool shoes.

Let's hear it for Zappos.com. And they have larger sizes, too.
Now, back to MJ's books. Order them, please and give yourself a treat.

I bought your first Charlotte Adams book for a neat freak friend (we both loved it!) and I can't wait for the second one.

Great advice, BTW!


Thanks, everyone! It was great to be invited to blog with this excellently murderous group. I've had the pleasure of meeting most of you at one conference or another over the years and hope to see you again (or meet you for the first time!) at Malice Domestic, Festival of Mystery, Bloody Words or Bouchercon this year. Note to self: don't forget to pack shoes.

Mary Jane! What a wonderful surprise to see you here! To anyone who's interested, I have ALL of Mary Jane's books (personally signed, of course ) and each series is a joy to read! I can't wait for the new one - Elaine from Ottawa promises to bring it with her for me when she comes down to Malice!

I'm not as into shoes as she is, but, having been to one of her book launches in Ottawa, I do happen to know that she always has chocolate available... :-)

Looking forward to seeing you at Malice, MJ!

Mary Jane, I'm all for reasonable and respectful relations between labor and management . . . but, jeez, no Semtex?

Without devastating fiery explosions, your characters are playing into the Boring-As-'Corner Gas'-Canadians myth. Puh-leeeze!

At least you can still make the characters enter a dark house by themselves when the door is slightly open and have their cars not start when they are being pursued by the murderer...Whew!!!

Thanks for the fun blog, Mary Jane. I started reading your books with Organize Your Corpses and am looking forward to The Cluttered Corpse release on April 1st. Hope to meet you at Malice!

Becky - we need to meet you!

Are you coming to RT in Pittsburgh? (More TLC news on that coming soon).

If not, we need to coordinate.

Mary Jane, welcome! Sorry I'm late to the party -- just back from Disneyland.

And I blush to admit that my first book featured a midnight graveyard scene. Followed by sex.

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