Category Archives: Portrait of Doreene Gray

Josie O’s first time on TV

It all began yesterday, as I stood in line at the Post Office. I checked my voice mail and there was a message from Dreux (pronounced Drew) DeMack, a producer at COCO (Colorado and Company), Denver’s Channel 9 morning show.

Hi, Esri! We were wondering if you could be on the show tomorrow to talk about The Portrait of Doreene Gray

Eek! The message had been left at 11:00 that morning, and now it was 3:30. Due to a surfeit of stupid political calls, I’d been ignoring unknown numbers. I called back and told Dreux’s voice mail I’d be overjoyed to come. Then I rushed home and washed Josie O. Then I rushed to Nordstrom Rack and bought a cute new dress, suitable for TV. 

But I didn’t hear from Dreux the rest of the day. I resisted the urge to beat my head against the wall. Now that I’d missed this chance, would they call again?

The next morning, today, I woke up around ten to eight and dialed Dreux’s number, just in case. He picked up. 

Hi, Esri, I just walked in the office. Sorry I didn’t get your voice mail yesterday, but we’d still like to have you on today. Did you get the message I left on your phone about an hour ago? 

I hadn’t, but the upshot was that they wanted Josie O and me there sometime between 9:30 and 9:45. It was now eight o’clock. I had an hour and a half to get myself and Josie ready and drive to Denver during the tail end of rush hour. 

No problem, Dreux! I’ll be there!

Esri’s 4-Step TV-Prep Program

Step 1. Drink a cup of soy milk to avoid passing out from low blood sugar.

Step 2. Careful grooming: Brush teeth. Wet ridiculous bed head. Attempt style with super big bobby pins. Give up and pomade it into submission. Put a whole crap load of make up on, and the aforementioned dress. 

Step 3. Get Josie’s stuff together. Sweater dress, toys, treats, food, water bottle, leash, ohmygod why does this dog have so much stuff?

Step 4. Drive to Denver. 

We made it there at 9:20 or so – plenty of time for Josie to have a wee on the manicured lawn and for me to sign in and get my visitor’s tag. Dreux came out and met me, and was just as warm and welcoming as last year. Great guy. This time, I was with the regular host, Denise Plante, a tall, gorgeous creature with boots I wanted to steal right off her shapely legs. I refrained. 

It’s chilly in a TV studio, except on the set proper, which is warmed by those bright, bright lights. Josie O sat quietly in her carrier while I reviewed my script and went over my answers to questions. Up on the set, Denise talked with guests about new treatments for thyroid problems and low mortgages. Dreux wandered over and looked down at Josie, who was napping. 

Him: She’s really good. 

Me: Next time, you’ll have her on and skip me. 

Finally it was our turn. I ran the mic up my dress, made sure my books were propped up, and gave Josie a few treats. Earlier I had walked around the set to get her familiar with it, but she didn’t seem to care. Josie has been in so many situations that her attitude is, “Is this what we’re doing now? Okay then.”

Denise gave me a lovely introduction, read the blurb for my book, and then asked about Josie. As I answered, I put Josie on the floor and had her do a spin, then picked her back up and took her sweater off, so she wouldn’t get warm and fuss. We only had about five minutes, and she sat quietly in my lap the whole time, being cute, which is her job.

Then we were done, and it was time to pack up. I asked Drew when the show would air. 

Didn’t I mention? This was live. We’ll probably run it again, though, because it’s general. I’ll let you know any subsequent air dates. Remind me to send you a DVD of your segment. 

So there it was, my second time on COCO and Josie’s first. As before, I did fine, but I also could have done better. Short appearances are a real art, and it’s hard to stay tightly on message. But hey, I had a cute dog with me. 

If you’re interested in Josie’s sweater, you can find it at The Doggie Market on Etsy.com. Just click here

 

 

New review in Richmond Times-Dispatch

 

It’s short, so here’s the whole thing:

Scary messages in the soup, slugs in the bedroom, strange lights in the woods — and a painting that seems to age while its subject does not.

All that — which may have Oscar Wilde chuckling in the clouds — takes place in “The Portrait of Doreene Gray” (306 pages, Minotaur Books, $24.99), the second in Esri Allbritten’s series of Chihuahua mysteries featuring the staff of Tripping, a magazine devoted to the paranormal: editor Angus MacGregor, writer Michael Abernathy and photographer Suki Oota.

This time out, the three are off to Port Townsend, Wash., where rich, 58-year-old Doreene has put the painting by her twin sister, Maureene Pinter, up for sale. Determined to make a feature story out of the supposedly magical portrait, the journalists soon see the stakes elevated when death enters the picture. Meanwhile, Doreene’s Chihuahua, Gigi, finds herself depending on the kindness of strangers.

Clever and comical, Allbritten’s second outing is as entertaining as its predecessor, and the reader’s verdict on it is reached quickly: Aye, Chihuahua.

Yet another good writer/reviewer. I like “death enters the picture,” and I LOVE “Aye, Chihuhaua,” ’cause he spelled “Aye” the Scottish way, not the Mexican way. Clever. 

Here’s a link to the full article. He reviews four other books. 

 

Cliché – What’s the original meaning of that word?

It wasn’t until I read my own first line in a review of The Portrait of Doreene Gray that I realized I’d used one of the oldest writing tropes in the book.

Outside the darkened windows of Doreene Gray’s second floor bedroom, a squall buffeted the house and whistled across the gingerbread trimming.

Yup. I’d essentially written, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Then I thought about the word “cliché,” and then I wondered what the heck it meant in the original French.

Wikipedia to the rescue.

The word is borrowed from French. In printing, a cliché was a printing plate cast from movable type. This is also called a stereotype.[6] When letters were set one at a time, it made sense to cast a phrase used repeatedly as a single slug of metal. “Cliché” came to mean such a ready-made phrase. Many authorities say that the French word “cliché” comes from the sound made when the molten stereotyping metal is poured onto the matrix to make a printing plate,[7][8][9] including the statement that it is a variant of cliquer, “to click”,[10] though some express doubt.[11][12]

Pretty interesting, non? Anyway, this is all by way of pointing out that there’s a new review for Portrait. Bonus points for her use of “inveigling.” Haven’t heard that word in ages

Another chance to win The Portrait of Doreene Gray.

Heads up: Angus MacGregor will be on Dru’s Book Musings tomorrow to talk about what it’s like being the editor of Tripping Magazine. (Your guide to paranormal destinations.) And yes, one lucky commenter will win a hardback copy of my newest book, The Portrait of Doreene Gray.

If you’ve read both my books, drop by anyway and ask Angus some personal questions. He loves those.

In honor of Angus, here is a photo of a very fat Chihuahua in a kilt.

How to Construct a Local Legend

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In body I may be at a conference in Vegas, but in spirit I’m on Lois Winston’s blog, Anastasia Pollack’s Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers, talking about how to construct a local legend. Comment there, and you could win a book! Come say “hi,” so I can continue to tap away on my smartphone while people smarter than me talk in the front of the room.

The Portrait of Doreene Gray – Review

Available in hardback and ebook right now.

Lesa Holstein is the winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer, plus a slew of other awards. Here’s her review of the second in my Tripping Magazine mystery series.

Once again, Esri Allbritten has given readers a solid mystery with a well-developed cast of characters. But, it’s the staff of Tripping Magazine that are the best characters, as they argue and plot their way to the solution of the mystery. Angus tries to find a paranormal connection and Michael tries to debunk all such possibilities. If you enjoy a little local history, a few ghost stories, fun sleuths, and a great deal of humor, you won’t go wrong with the latest Chihuahua mystery, The Portrait of Doreene Gray.

Click here to read the entire review.

Click here to read the first chapters of the book.

Click here to buy Portrait at the bookseller of your choice.

And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, it’s available in paperback now.

Chihauhua of the Baskervilles now in Paperback

Hi, kids! Just a heads up that the first book in the Tripping Magazine mystery series is available in paperback as of today, and they have dropped the Kindle price to match ($7.99). Remember, you don’t need a Kindle device – you can download a free app to your PC, Mac, iPad, smartphone, Blackberry, or tablet.

 

 

The Portrait of Doreene Gray, second in the series, comes out July 3. Right now it has an Amazon pre-order price of $15.35 for the hardcover, $11.99 for Kindle. That Kindle price will probably stay the same until there’s a paperback, but the hardcover price will likely go up a couple of bucks when it officially comes out.

Reviews for The Portrait of Doreene Gray:

“A little bit X-Files, a little bit Agatha Christie and a whole lotta charming. If you like your mysteries baffling, bizarre and, above all, fun, you’re going to love it.” — Steve Hockensmith, author of the New York Times best seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and the Edgar Award nominee Holmes on the Range.

“The three quirky main characters add an appealingly hip edge to the cozy core of Allbritten’s sequel to 2011’s Chihuahua of the Baskervilles” —Publishers Weekly

Want to read the first couple of chapters of either book? Be my guest.

Excerpt, Chihuahua of the Baskervilles

Excerpt, The Portrait of Doreene Gray

And if you’ve already read Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, don’t miss the free short story I wrote using some of the same characters.

Discussion Questions for Reading Groups

Today I received an email from Cynthia Provenzano of the Pikes Peak Library District, asking if I had discussion questions for reading groups. What a good idea! I asked if she had any tips, and she did. First, she suggested that I not have more than 10 or 12 questions per book. Second, she gave me the websites of two authors she felt provided excellent questions: Sandra Dallas and Carol Goodman. And finally, she said not to ask what actors would play the characters in a movie. (D’oh! That’s an author’s favorite game, but apparently we’re the only ones who care.)

With this information under my belt, I wrote discussion questions for both Chihuahua of the Baskervilles and The Portrait of Doreene Gray (available July 3, 2012). They are, of course, chock full o’ spoilers, so don’t read them unless you have already read the books. Or if you have no intention of ever reading them – that works, too.

Thanks, Cynthia!

Random Morning Thoughts #1

I’m always chatty in the morning, but Angel Joe goes to work immediately, the cat just wants out, and the puppy, while freakin’ adorable, is basically limited to sign language. So far, hers consists of “let me out of this pen,” “I love you, please love me,” and “throw this.” So here I am, talking to the interwebs.

The boss man from the kitchen cabinet company is coming today to check out these last two cabinets that don’t have the right hinges. Seems like no matter how many photos Joe takes of the doors with their hinges, without, partially open, etc., they can’t figure it out. We’re hoping this gets the job done. Angel Joe is not usually a complainer, but he was really bitchin’ about taking the hinges off for photo purposes and then having to put still-wrong ones back on. It irks him to expend effort on brokenness.

One of the things I’m working on today is getting author endorsement quotes for The Portrait of Doreene Gray (July 3), and also hunting up review sites to send advance review copies to. If you have any sweet, sweet knowledge, please lay it on me. Word.

The bathroom counter guys came on Monday. Turned out both sink cut outs were off center. One can be fixed by moving the cabinet under it, the other one needs to be redone, which Atlas Flooring is doing for free. The benefits of working with a reputable local company are significant. The medicine cabinets come tomorrow. Aren’t they pretty? They’re recessed into the wall.

That’s supposed to be “antique silver.” The bathrooms will be a bit of a mish-mash, with notes of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and contemporary, but the kitchen is like that, and it works.

Josie O gets her last round of shots tomorrow, and then I can take her on actual walks! Part of the reason for getting a dog was to get me out of the house twice a day, so I’m pretty excited. Today Colorado’s big wind, the Chinook, is howling and banging around the house, so I wouldn’t want to go out anyway.

Time to get to work.

Coming down the home stretch. (I hope.)

Yesterday I stopped revisions of Portrait of Doreene Gray at page 263. I’m hoping to hammer out the rest today (up to page 345). Then tomorrow I’ll add some more Chihuahua appearances, cause I was so caught up in the plot that I kept forgetting. Gigi (Doreene’s poor, ignored Chi) is gold, bless her. While my human characters tend to be chilly intellectuals, distanced party girls and opportunistic manipulators, all of whom are only out for a laugh, I have no problem pouring emotional content into my books’ dogs. Yesterday I gave Gigi a very emotional moment, and I thought, “Shall I have her lift a paw?” She lifted the paw. (sniff) I get teary just thinking about it.

Fingers crossed that I get this revision done on Friday, so my parents, husband, and agent can all read it. My editor doesn’t have time yet. I might be able to do another pass before she gets to it.