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July 01, 2009

A Fast Read


A Fast Read

By Elaine Viets

Karen Grace, a St. Louis woman, gave my current mystery a recommendation

that’s better than a starred review in Publishers Weekly, or praise in the New York

Times. She believes my writing has more magic than Harry Potter.

It might work for you, too. Here’s her phone call.

"I finished ‘Killer Cuts,’" Karen said. "I read it all the way to the ending, you bitch."

"Er, you didn’t like the surprise twist?"

"I knew you were going to trick me," she said. "I didn’t think you’d go that low."

"Thank you," I said modestly.

Karen believes "Killer Cuts" has the power to slash waiting time at doctors’ offices.

How many years of your life have you wasted reading antique issues of Smithsonian magazine, or watching television programs with recipes for heart-healthy meals?

Karen bought "Killer Cuts" when it came out in May. "I just finished it at the end of June," she said.

"I’m sorry," I said. "It must have been slow reading."

"No, no. I only read it in doctors’ offices. When your new book comes out, I usually stop everything. I sit up all night and read it. But this time, I wasn’t going to do that. I thought I’d prolong the experience."

"Savoring every well-crafted sentence?" I said hopefully.

"Something like that. I decided I’d only read your book when I was in a doctor’s waiting room."

"You must be a healthy person if it took you two months."

"It shouldn’t have taken that long," she said. "I’m okay, but my mom has been sick. I’ve been driving her to the orthopedic surgeon, the physical therapist, the internist and other doctors. I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in their offices. That’s why I brought your book to read. "I figured I’d have at least half an hour per visit. But once I started carrying ‘Killer Cuts,’ I never had to wait more than ten minutes for a doctor – not even when I took Mom to the emergency room."

"Is she okay?"

"She’s fine. But thanks to your book, we were in and out of there in record time. Then I had a doctor’s appointment: I had to see a dermatologist at 3:15. I knew she’d be really backed up that late in the afternoon. I sat down and opened your book. That’s when the receptionist called my name. It took less than five minutes."

I make no claims that my novel will bring you fast, effective relief from long waits in doctors’ offices. I don’t know why "Killer Cuts" slashed Karen’s waiting-room time, but she says the book works, and I’d never argue with a perceptive reader.

Why does it work? It’s a mystery.

Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to spend $22.95 to avoid that lost time? Even if it fails and you’re forced to read the book, it’s a pleasant way to pass the time. After all, I only kill the deserving. The sort of people you’d kill, if you could get away with it.

The next time you’re facing a long wait at the doctor’s, pick up a copy of "Killer Cuts." It may cut your waiting room time.

Meanwhile, here’s a true story about my miraculous book.

A woman loved "Killer Cuts" so much she picked it up the first thing every morning. She kept it with her all day. She weighed herself precisely at 9 a.m., then ate a rich breakfast, followed by a fattening lunch, cold beer and fried chicken for dinner, a hot fudge sundae for dessert. The woman refused to exercise. But she always made sure to weigh herself promptly at 9 p.m.

At the end of the day, she weighed nearly a pound less.

She kept up this routine for fourteen days, eating rich food, never exercising, always weighing herself at nine and nine.

She was about a pound lighter at night.

If she remembered to put down my 15-ounce hardcover before she weighed herself.


    "Dead Ex," the new Wollie Shelley novel by our friend and blog sister, Harley Jane Kozak, has just been published in paperback. If you haven't read it yet, order it from Mystery Lovers Bookshop or another fine store. This cool summer treat has no calories.

    One more thing -- Harley's short story has been selected for the new Mystery Writers of America anthology, "Blood Lust," edited by Charlaine Harris. Her story was chosen by a panel of judges from blind submissions. Is that cool or what? The anthology is out in April 2010.

 -- Elaine  


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Can't believe I'm first to comment (I'm up from a dead sleep because I thought I forgot to pay my homeowners insurance).

This is wonderful news about Harley's short story. You rock!

Elaine, a friend loaned me Killer Cuts with a hearty recommendation, and I enjoyed it so much I finished it in two days (a real feat since time is such a premium with me). I didn't read it at the doctor's office like the St. Louis lady, although it would've been preferable to any reading material he stocks in the waiting room. His choices include mostly religious periodicals, and we're not the same religion. Also, I'm not entirely sure I want to be confronted with the hereafter when I'm going to the doctor to be treated for some ailment. Talk about depressing...

Elaine, KILLER CUTS kept me going all night long. It was terrific! (I still say Allison Janney would make the perfect Helen Hawthorne for a movie). I kind of liked the ending...:) I mean, when does anything go easy for Helen?!?!?!

ELAINE!! Did you bother to mention that YOU TOO have a short story in the new Charlaine Harris anthology?!

And I bet we get in trouble for mentioning this before it's been officially announced.

As a fringe benefit, do you think we may get to meet Vampire Bill?

Welcome, Early Bird Laurie. You win the prize, a nice fat fishing worm.
Harley, after living in Florida, I'm not even sure I'd notice Vampire Bill. He'd be one more weirdo here.
Elaine Viets

LOVED Killer Cuts, and took two copies to South Jersey, where my Mom's friends are devouring it and buying more to pass along.

congrats (no cap C in case we're supposed to keep it quiet) to Harley and Elaine - this must be some anthology!

This is Doctors' appointment week for our family. I am putting Killer Cuts in my bag. If only I'd known this yesterday!

Elaine -

Haven't read Killer Cuts yet. I'm working through your series and am now on "Murder Between the Covers." However, I think I read them out of order because I just finished "Murder Unleashed." No matter what order I read them, I'm thoroughly enjoying all of them! Great job!

~ Jennifer

Elaine, you bashful one, that's wonderful about the short story! I'm surrounded by talent. What will it take to rub off on me?

Somebody enlighten me: Who is Vampire Bill? Is he kin to Bob the mannequin?

Perhaps those doctors don't like that _Killer Cuts_ title on view in their waiting room?? I know when I carried Judith Viorst's _Yes, Married_ on an airplane in the '70's, it was one of the few times I didn't get hit on.
I used to save _Cat Who_ mysteries for comfort during stressful medical times.
FYI, a friend who sells medical stuff says he would NEVER pick up one of the magazines in a doctor's waiting room.
I almost always have a book in my bag to make waiting time seem less. Once in the Toyota waiting room I heard two or three different people say, "If I'd known I'd be waiting this long, I'd have brought a book." I shared that anecdote with my students with the advice to ALWAYS carry a book.
CONGRATULATIONS Elaine and Harley (I never could keep things quiet).

Once when I had to go to the Social Security office to get my card reissued, I took a book. The lines were huge. I could have sold that book 10 times over. I was the envy of everyone there. Always have a book with me.

First off, congratulations to Elaine and Harley for their blind achievements!

Mary, I can understand why the friend didn't want to pick up a magazine in the doc's waiting room. Hoards of bad germs are probably swing-dancing on those pages in anticipation of jumping onto new hands.

Wow, Elaine. I'm glad you advised us of the "KILLER CUTS effect" before I have to take my son to all of his pre-college doctors appts the second week of August. I read your book almost the minute it was released, but if taking it to a doctor's waiting room has such a positive short-wait-time outcome, then I'm on for another opportunity to visit Helen's world.

I usually remember to take a book with me but sometimes I do forget, so today, a volume of short stories is going in the van console!
I always avoided the magazines at my old GPs office after I saw a snotty nosed toddler drooling on them! ewwww!
I just realized that the new dr doesn't have any magazines in his waiting room. Health conscious or cheap? He does have lots of posters of famous golf courses, then Monet's Water Lillies (I figured it was the water hazard from hell LOL)
Congrats Elaine & Harley! Let us know when it comes out.

My allergist's staff is compulsive about weeding out magazines that are more than a couple of months old -- still that would be time for many germs to incubate. At least patients there are not usually suffering from anything infectious.
I'd save up TLC books for those emergencies, but I can't wait to read them!

Laurie, Vampire Bill is the significant other to Sookie Stackhouse, Charlaine Harris's wondrous creation. HBO's TRUE BLOOD is pretty great, but the original books and the original Vampire Bill are incomparable.

Hmmmm... Elaine AND Harley, two of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met, in a book titled BLOOD LUST.

This is TERRIFIC NEWS, ladies!

Thank you, William, but has it occurred to you that we only look sweet and kind?

William, Harley is a genuinely sweet person. I am able to disguise my true nature for long stretches.
As for waits in the doctors' offices, my friend Janet used to arm her toddlers with gooey chocolate bars. They were in the exam rooms instantly. But KILLER CUTS wasn't written then.
Elaine Viets

I never go a doctor or dentist appointment without taking a book along. There's no way I want to read those germ coated magazines they have.

Congrats to both of you gals on the anthology.

My doctor has copies of the Smithsonian that are real antiques. "Surviving Cancer" is one of those topics I know is important but hope to avoid.
Elaine Viets

Sheesh, I'm scared of you both now!

(Mental note: Never attend another book signing with either unless armed. Preferably with bazookas and a SWAT team behind me....)

Okay, enough smart comments; ironic coming from me, right? What is BLOOD LUST, what did you write for it, and when is it coming out?

Yeah, 'cause inquiring minds want to KNOW.

William, I went to a cook book signing by Ted Nugent to get xmas present for my son. Borders had 3 ft high banners in the front windows "ABSOLUTELY NO FIREARMS OR WEAPONS!!"
They had to give out line tickets.
I told Elaine she needs to have those put up for her signings. She'll get all kinds of good old boys buying her books! LOL

The anthology is mysteries with a supernatural edge. My story, "The Bedroom Door," is based on my southern Grandma Vierling, who said she saw the dead at the foot of her bed before they left this world.
Elaine Viets

. . . and is there an estimated publication date??
oops -- just looked back and saw the answer April 2010. Perhaps we can have a reminder a bit closer to that date??
BTW, this is hysterical "She was about a pound lighter at night.
If she remembered to put down my 15-ounce hardcover before she weighed herself." It also makes about as much sense as most diet plans. Hey, there's another dead-end job idea, a diet center "consultant" perhaps too low to stoop, though.

Shared the 'pound lighter at night' story with a patient today who was just about to get on the scales and see today's numbers; probably laughed at least half a pound off!
Although you're welcome to bring Elaine's book to my waiting room, you won't have a chance to read it, I'm afraid--average wait time about 3 minutes.
But, having a book handy for unexpected delays, YES.

Laraine, you are to be praised and exalted!

I wouldn't go that far, but I know how miserable it feels to arrive in a reception area and know you are the furthest thing from the mind of your dear doctor, be they MD, acupuncturist or what . . . . One should be greeted with warmth and punctuality!

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