NEWSLETTER

Late November 2017

 I don’t know about you all, but I’m still recovering from my Thanksgiving food hangover. Hope you all had a lovely one!
Amazingly, I managed to decorate my tree and house in spite of my torpor, which makes me very happy. It’s so much work, so why not enjoy every single moment of seasonal decor before it all gets dismantled? I have four cats, so you would think they would dismantle it before I’d get a chance, but they ignore it. I feel extremely lucky, because I know that’s unusual. A friend just sent me a photo of a Christmas tree lot — the sign said: GIANT GREEN CAT TOYS FOR SALE.My publisher asked me to write a short piece about Christmas and my top five reads. It won’t go live until December 1, but I thought I’d share it with you all first, so here it is:

There is still magic in the world, really, there is! You’ll find it in books, of course, which is why we all love them, but to me, nothing more perfectly encapsulates magic than Christmas. I don’t think I’m alone in this belief, because some of the most beloved, timeless stories feature Christmas themes – it’s the perfect opportunity to combine luscious escapism with poignant allegory. And when else can you embrace unabashed sentimentality with abandon?

Perhaps it’s just the lens through which I see Christmas, but the world seems to transform into a better version of itself during the season. People’s hearts open and their spirits transcend the all-consuming, earthly ardors of real life and find time to make things special and perfect for family and friends. Things we take for granted the rest of the year reassert their importance and meaning. Dearly departed loved ones grace us with their presence and fill us with joy in the form of wonderful memories from Christmases past. Anything seems possible, wishes come true. Children see all of this better than anybody, and maybe that’s part of the magic, reconnecting with the innocence of childhood for just a little while and not feel silly about it.

Christmas is not just a time to reinforce connections with family and friends and community, it’s a time to revisit favorite holiday stories that capture the spirit of the season. I’ve compiled a list of my top five, ones I re-read every December in front of the fire while I wait for jolly old St. Nick.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

This is quintessential O. Henry, a brilliant short story with a poignant, ironic twist. Set against the backdrop of Christmas and still very modern in its message, it showcases the selflessness and devotion of love and reminds us that the best gifts can’t be wrapped and put under a tree.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A superb juxtaposition of darkness and light. A dour, dark, and creepy paranormal excursion transforms into an uplifting tale about second chances. It’s never too late to take a different path, and if Scrooge can turn around, anybody can.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore

This poem is beloved for a reason. It’s charming, vivid, and has the cadence of an addictive pop song you’re embarrassed to admit you like. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find many people who couldn’t recite at least part of this verbatim.

Christmas Eve by Nikolai Gogol

This is my wild card pick. Only a Russian author could incorporate the devil and a witch in a Christmas story and make it work. It’s pure Gogol – surreal, hilarious, macabre – but like all of his works, there is serious subtext beneath the quirkiness and ultimately, goodness and love conquer evil. Spoiler alert: the story ends with villagers spitting at a likeness of the devil in hell and calling him Poop Head.

Return of the Magi by PJ Tracy (of course!)

We wanted to put a modern, edgy spin on the story of the three wise men by following funny, flawed characters as they are grudgingly thrown together by circumstance and consequently take very personal, transformative journeys as an unlikely squad of misfits. Most important was to write a novel that embodied some of the wonderful things the Christmas season has always represented to us: love, hope, charity, redemption, and of course, a little magic. And no doubt you will find influence from all of the above.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Early November 2017

Hi everybody,

Merry Christmas?  It feels like Christmas outside (brrrr) and we still have a couple weeks to go before Thanksgiving.  The holidays are my favorite time in spite of the cold and I know it will be over too soon.  Spring before we know it!  Don’t ask my cats about my optimism — they take one step outside into the frigid morning and look back at me in devastation.  Confusion and betrayal.  Like it’s my fault.  They always seem to forget that the holidays also mean exciting new kitty toys, like Christmas ornaments to bat and bows on packages to shred.

I wanted to share a promotional piece on MAGI and some wonderful new early reviews.  I’m so excited, and I know PJ is smiling down — this was truly our baby together and I suspect she’s thrilled.  Enjoy the build-up to the holidays and enjoy the magic, it’s just waiting to be discovered and it only happens once a year.

RETURN OF THE MAGI E-BOOK AVAILABLE  NOVEMBER 15!

Warm your heart this Christmas with this wonderful festive tale from bestselling author P.J. Tracy – perfect for fans of It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street.

Emil Rice has a silver tongue and sticky fingers, the only problem is that his charm always gets him into trouble and he’s never been very good at not getting arrested. Twenty-two times he’s been caught and twenty-two times he’s sworn never to steal again, but it’s on his twenty-third arrest when Emil realizes he may have picked up more than he bargained for. Sentenced to community service at a secure mental health facility, Emil is unwillingly befriended by two elderly female patients who believe he is the final part of a big cosmic plan that will change their lives forever…

This heartwarming Christmas tale of kindness, friendship and redemption will be perfect for the cold winter nights!

Early five-star reviews from Netgalley readers:

“What a lovely read and, for once, I agree with the blurb it’s heartwarming. It’s an exhilarating journey for Emil both physically and mentally as he tries to keep up with the elderly ladies, Gloria and Edith, both funny and touching in turn. This is one of the best Christmas novels I have ever read for sheer verve and audacity. I have no hesitation in recommending Return of the Magi as an excellent if short festive read.” *****

“It has been a long time since I enjoyed a book from beginning to end, not wanting the story to finish. This is a beguiling re-imagining of part of the Christmas Story set in modern America in the most unlikely Holy City – Las Vegas. This is a tale which is instructive in the best of ways. It is funny and moving, light-hearted yet deep. It is so well-written and ends with hope…and with this reader just wishing for more.” *****

“Five brightly shining stars. This book was just adorable.” *****

“It’s humorous, it has delightful characters, it’s festive and it has a happy ending. After reading a ton of gritty dramas and detective stories it’s a lovely change of pace. What more could you ask for?” *****

“Do yourself the most amazing favor and read this superb festive and magical short story by PJ Tracy. It will make you laugh out loud as its deft comic touches and its wisdom will melt your heart.” *****

“An absolutely brilliant read, that I cannot recommend highly enough!! This is a hilarious and touching homage to the biblical nativity story.” *****

Available through Amazon U.S. and Amazon U.K., published by Penguin Group.

July 2017

Dear friends,

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve been in touch, and I think you all know why.  Last year was spent enjoying every single moment possible with PJ, helping to guide her through her long illness to the end of her life in December 2016, and then trying to find my place in a world without her.  She is so deeply missed, but her joy and laughter and love are still everywhere, and in everything I do.  She left an abundance of amazing memories, just one the many gifts she bestowed upon the people who knew and loved her in life, and still do in death.

I’ve spent months wondering how such a catastrophic loss didn’t paralyze me – sure, you can be prepared for an eventuality, but you can never be prepared for the aftermath.  I steeled myself for the worst and kept waiting to disintegrate into a blubbering, useless mess, but as time passed, I was oddly inspired to write — better, harder, faster than ever before.  I eventually came up with an obvious answer to this puzzlement — writing is one of my enduring tethers to PJ, and when I do it, I hear her voice and laughter, I feel her sitting on my shoulder, cracking wise and putting in her two cents.  She is still a part of every word I write because PJ Tracy was an entity and voice we created together, not the sum of separate parts.

As strange and incomplete as 2017 has been without her, she will be very present this year with the release of the last two novels we wrote together: the eighth Monkeewrench thriller NOTHING STAYS BURIED (August 1st) and the heartwarming, quirky Christmas fantasy RETURN OF THE MAGI, a piece with a long history that has been our baby for many, many years and perhaps the most personally meaningful bit of writing we’ve ever done.  It is pure grace that on the morning of her death, I got the good news and was able to tell her that MAGI would finally be published.  Those were words she’d been dreaming of hearing for over a decade and what a gift to be able to tell her so before she moved onto her next place, her next adventure.

And there is a ninth Monkeewrench novel, already completed and out next year, and exciting new projects in the works, much more to come.  As PJ would have wanted, PJ Tracy will continue.  PJ would have also wanted me to tell you that this week, there is a special price promotion for THE SIXTH IDEA e-book — $1.99 from any e-tailer until Sunday, July 16th.

Very best to you all,

Traci

JULY 2016

Dear friends and readers,

PJ and I are getting excited for the U.S. August 2nd launch of THE SIXTH IDEA.  We’ve received some terrific early reviews so far, including a “Hot Pick” from RT Book Reviews, a summer reading book pick from Minneapolis Star Tribune, thumbs-up from Publisher’s Weekly, and there is much more to come.  We also wanted to alert you that there is a book giveaway on the blogsite To Read or Not to Read:  2 Read or Not 2 Readgiveaway

Only four days left to enter!

We will be appearing at Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis for the book launch on August 2nd at 7 pm, and we will keep you posted on further media events on the website and on Facebook as they come in.  And if you can’t make it to Once Upon a Crime or to your local bookseller, THE SIXTH IDEA is available for pre-order in all formats through multiple sources.

To our U.K. and ANZ readers, we will know more about any book giveaways and press in your part of the world next week, which we will post on the website and on our Facebook page.

For the cat lovers out there, my saga continues.  There has been much less killing here lately.  My four furry, homicidal angels have even been so beneficent as to allow a baby possum to occasionally seek shelter beneath the front porch.  Go figure.  I’ve seen momma matriarch kitty chase an adult raccoon out of the yard, but she ignores the possum.  I guess the motherhood instinct is fierce enough to transcend spaying.

All the best to you,

PJ Tracy

MAY 2016

Thank you for subscribing to pjtracy.com!  We welcome the opportunity to share a little bit more about who we are and what we do when we’re not writing.  This is the first newsletter we’ve put out in a long time, so it will be part update, part anecdote.

There have been a lot of inquiries as to why we dropped off the radar after the publication of OFF THE GRID.  We would like to tell you some glamorous tale about retreating to Borneo for an Orangutan rescue project or embedding in a foreign hot zone for a psy-op mission, but the unglamorous truth is, we’ve had some rather tenuous family health issues that required our undivided attention.  Things have improved greatly since, and we’re very excited for the release of THE SIXTH IDEA on August 2nd in the U.S. and for the release of the same novel under the title COLD KILL in the U.K. on August 11th.  But if you’ve subscribed, you already know there is a new book looming on the not-so-distant horizon.

But what some of you may not know is that we have another Monkeewrench novel coming out in 2017 and are currently working on yet another Monkeewrench novel.  It feels great to be back in the game.

Now, onto the more personal side of things from Traci’s POV (PJ’s soon to come…)

To reference an exuberant Rodgers and Hammerstein show tune, June is busting out all over!  But it’s not June yet (although it looks like it) so hooray for an early spring!  It seems like the world changed overnight, things miraculously springing to life out of winter dormancy – is that why they call it spring?  Trees are unfurling vibrant green leaves, early-blooming shrubs and plants are decked out in floral finery, and the broad spectrum of the animal kingdom is pairing up so they can go forth, be fruitful, and multiply.  Unfortunately, this spring ritual also pertains to mosquitoes and ticks.

Speaking of fruit (and vegetables and herbs and funghi), rhubarb is fat and juicy and ripe for picking, the chives are young and sweet, and once-a-year foraged treasures like ramps (wild leeks), wild asparagus, morel mushrooms, and fiddlehead ferns are in the woods, on restaurant menus, and at the local farmers’ markets.

Spring is a paean to life and a jubilant respite from writing about death.  Or so you would think.  But life and death perennially co-exist, and there is no greater evidence of this than my yard, which has recently become an abattoir.  At any given time of day, I find it littered with the decapitated bodies of mice, moles, voles, and sometimes rabbits and squirrels.  Morning walks have become undertaker’s duty and I never leave the house without a trash bag and a pair of latex gloves.  Forensic analysis is not necessary — this is clearly not the gruesome handiwork of a twisted, ritualistic serial killer, but of Felis catus – specifically, my four beloved, furry companions.

You see, just as the change in seasons compels humans to create immense, overly-ambitious spring to-do lists (that are rarely if ever fulfilled before the snow flies again, at least in my case), so it goes with cats.  But cats are far more adroit in completing their spring to-do lists, because they only have one item to address:  KILL ANYTHING THAT MOVES, AS LONG AS IT’S SMALLER THAN A JUMBO JET.

Yes, my cats are highly-skilled assassins — most cats are, regardless of how well-fed.  That is their primary job, their genetic secret to survival, and it is inexorably woven into the helix of their DNA, bless their little helices and hearts.  They are perfectly crafted agents of death, and consequently, one of the most successful predatory species to ever inhabit the Earth.  They have also rendered my home one hundred percent rodent free, which qualifies them for canonization.

So why the decapitated bodies, why the profligate bloodshed, you ask?  Because cats are fiercely committed predators, hard-wired to take down prey whenever it’s available, whether they’re hungry or not.  But they don’t overeat, unlike their canine contemporaries, and have no way to confit, salt-cure, or vacuum seal and freeze their surplus.  And because we live in the country, surrounded by woods – prime real estate for obligate carnivores like felines (the human equivalent being an oceanfront mansion in Malibu) – there is a grand surfeit in the spring, a rodent bounty of epic proportions.

If they snag a mouse or two, they kill and eat them and rarely leave anything but the occasional kidney or two.  (They don’t like kidneys – neither do I.)  But after the fifth or sixth mouse, the cats find themselves in the same awkward position people find themselves when going to the cinema.  You walk into the lobby and some diabolical inner voice tells you to go ahead and buy that jumbo bucket of popcorn that costs more than your monthly electricity bill.  A quarter of the way through the jumbo bucket, your stomach is bulging uncomfortably, you start to feel nauseated, but you just can’t help popping a few more kernels in your mouth as the movie winds down.  I have come to think of those missing rodent heads as kitty popcorn – just a couple more morsels couldn’t hurt, right?

My cats are a great reminder that nature is always beautiful, but it isn’t always pretty.  There are the sunsets and rainbows and flowers, but behind the scenes, there is always a battle for survival.  Country living teaches you that in a hurry.

But onto the less macabre rites of spring – I hope everyone is enjoying theirs as much as I am, even if darkness and light command equal billing on the marquee.  And for our friends who live down-under, I hope you’re enjoying your opposite change of seasons — there is wonder in all of them.

Much gratitude for being such dear and loyal readers, and we wish you all the very best in the year to come.  You’ll be hearing from us again soon.