Laura Caldwell's Blog

September 20, 2010

Yesterday, Richard Daley announced he would not run again for mayor of Chicago. I was on the road, driving from my house on the other side of Lake Michigan back to the city, when his press conference came on the radio. In shock, I almost pulled over. Instead, I listened as the wash of accolades for Mayor Daley came in, along with the flood of potential candidates for his position.



As I neared Chicago and saw the skyline in the distance, I was struck that things that were about to change. Seriously. Say what you want, about Richard Daley but one thing is for sure, when he steps down, the city will be different. Is it possible it will be a better different? A brighter different? A future that is less violent, more optimistic, but still as hard working and determined and generous as the city has always been? Yes. Possible. But it is very clear-things will be different.



I like when these times come up in life—times when you get a red flag that the fairly predictable road you’re travelling is about to take a major curve, only you don’t know where. These are good times to reflect and to appreciate.



So as I drove Lake Shore Drive, I stared at Navy Pier, remembering when it was just a string of carcasses of buildings. Now, yachts line one side, bars and cafes and a Ferris wheel on the other. Daley did that. He also was responsible for Cloud Gate, the sculpture in Millennium Park by Anish Kapoor. I remember when that was under construction, massively under-financed and over-due, and I grumbled along with the rest of the city who said we did not be need to spend bizillions on a reflective, enormous jelly bean. But when it was done, I was stunned. The thing is a beauty, reflecting the whole city behind you no matter where you stand. Daley did that too.



There are so many things Daley, and all the people who work under him, accomplished. And now with his giant shadow fading, we as a city have an opportunity here, one to become even more than we already are. But his are big shoes to fill. So let's go Chicago. Let's step it up.




Originally appeared in The Outfit.




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Published on September 20, 2010 00:00 • 110 views

February 18, 2010

Life After Innocence client, Dean Cage, appeared on the Dr. Phil Show last week. During the show he got to meet the woman who mistakenly accused him of rape, sending him to prison for 14 years. Dr Phil enjoyed Dean and Loretta so much that he did a follow up show which I was involved in. It was truly profound to watch these 2 people, both victims of the system, come together, forgive each other, and actually heal a lot of deep wounds. The shows can be seen, in part, on the Dr Phil website. Look for my appearance at the end of February or beginning of March. Once I get an air date I'll be sure to let you know.

Show coverage:

Part 1
Part 2

Other coverage on their story:

CNN

AOL News


This post originally appeared on The Outfit:A Collection of Chicago Crime Writers (http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.com)
http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.c...




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Published on February 18, 2010 00:00 • 61 views

I’m not a big fan of vilification, whether it's in fiction or in life. But more and more, I seem to be the only one who doesn't have the stomach for it. Public figures these days are either on pedestals or, once they have committed some transgression (at least in the mind of the media), they are smacked to the figurative ground, then beaten silly by gossip and strident tongue-lashing from news “experts.”

I find the whole vilification process not only distasteful, but false. We crime writers have been taught that a villain in a novel who is a 100% evil is, generally, just not interesting, in part because the character won’t strike the reader as true. I guess this is why, to date, I have not written about any serial killers. Yes, they do exist, but they seem so evil as to not be particularly fascinating to me. I don't know what the answer is in terms of the media's handling of news "stories," but I do know what the answer is for me in my writing. I want to write people--characters--whether they're considered good, bad or in-the-middle, who have complex reasons for their actions, who are motivated by one thing at one time, and then maybe something else entirely a few days down the line, just like the rest of us. Because really, the villains, "the bad guys,” are just like everyone else—maybe they're just nastier, maybe they just care a little less about their consequences.

I recently finished Dan Chaon’s novel, Await Your Reply. Sakey and I met Dan a few months ago when 57th Street Books organized an author support group of sorts (of course at a pub) following one of Dan’s local signings. I bought the book shortly after, didn’t have a chance to read it until a recent trip, and am now am terribly disappointed that I’ve finished it. Because Choan masterfully works with the concept of good and evil, making the reader guess—or maybe just decide on their own—who the real villain is in the story, or whether there is one at all.


 


This post originally appeared on The Outfit: A Collection of Chicago Crime Writers (http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.com)


http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.c...


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Published on February 18, 2010 00:00 • 62 views
Jason Pinter, a good writer friend, tweeted last week that he was "tinkering" with a manuscript. I tweeted back, "God is in the tinkering." I meant it when I wrote it, but it wasn't until today, when I'm supposed to submit my first (completely rewritten) non-fiction book to my editor, that I realized tinkering isn't just a form of polishing your manuscript, it is also, at least for me, a way of saying sayonara.

It's the writer's version of seeing a kid off to college. You're relieved the time has finally come, but it's bittersweet all the same. So instead of sending them with a case of Rammen noodles and some old sheets, you shop the Container Store for the best shower caddies and Bed, Bath & Beyond for matching linens. Writing wise, I have been putting in a comma here, deleting a phrase there (then adding it back in, then deleting it).

Finishing this book is even more bittersweet than turning in my novels, because it's about my now-friend, former-client, Jovan Mosley, who was in a holding cell in Cook County for six years awaiting a trial for murder. Since representing Jovan in 2005, I've been living with this book--writing parts of it in my head, scribbling notes on napkins, reading thousands of pages of transcripts, reliving the trial with my other friend, Cathy O'Daniel, the lawyer who really did the heavy lifting on Jovan's case. But now the story has been amassed and the details nailed down. Like the kid off to college, it's time to say to the book, I'll be here if you need me, but meanwhile, you're on your own.


 


This post originally appeared on The Outfit: A Collection of Chicago Crime Writers (http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.com)


http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.c...




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Published on February 18, 2010 00:00 • 65 views
Writing Resolutions

It seems a lazy move to write at the end of the year about New Year's resolutions. I usually don't make them. I always figured if I cared enough about something I'd address that thing during the year itself.

But now it's the end of a decade, which seems more momentous. And it's the end of a year that wasn't so pretty for many - not so pretty financially, not so pretty culturally, certainly not so pretty for the publishing world. So my fingers are itching to lay down a few mandates for myself and my writing for the new year, the new decade.

Number 1 - drop the fear. I used to believe (and still sort of do, I'm working on it) that personal fear is a personal motivator. If I didn't fear the ability to hit a deadline, I figured, then I wouldn't make it. If I didn't fear poor quality of writing, then I wouldn't be able to produce good writing. But lately, I've wondered if that fear, that panic, really helps, or is it a crutch or a curse? I touched on this a few months ago on this blog. I haven't come to any additional conclusions since then. So my Number 1 resolution is, at least to make a good faith effort, to drop the fear.

Number 2 - write six pages a day, five days a week. This is minutiae, certainly. Sort of like a goal to brush your teeth four times a day. But a goal like that helps create discipline, and if there's one thing I've learned from the law it's that discipline is about the only thing that gets the work done. And because I'm trying to kick fear to the curb, I need those type of goals. So six pages a day, five days a week it is.

Number 3 - use Jott more often. If you haven't discovered Jott.com, I heartily encourage it, especially if you're a writer. It combines voice recognition software with actual humans, so that you dial a number from your cellphone, speak into it, and minutes later you find your words typed out and in your email box. Sure, the punctuation is often skewed, the spelling at times hilariously wrong, but as a former litigator who used to dictate all my written work, this system works well for me. (Despite my enthusiastic overtures, Jott.com has passed on my offer to be a spokesperson).

Number 4 - love it. For a while, my deadlines in the writing biz were so intense (at least for me) that some of the pleasure began to seep away. Lately, I've had time to breathe. Lately, I've been reading books just because I want to, and I've been finding myself wildly inspired by the absolute gifts of other writers. All of this makes me love my job. Let's correct that. The word 'job' and 'work' don't fit so well with what I do. That's why I promise to use those words less often. And to love it all the more.

This post originally appeared on The Outfit:A Collection of Chicago Crime Writers (http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.com)
Permalink: http://theoutfitcollective.blogspot.c...


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Published on February 18, 2010 00:00 • 44 views

November 19, 2009

October was my month for travel. First, I went to Napa with girlfriends and bled the countryside of wine. Next, I went to the Wisconsin Literary Festival in Madison (Great town, great people, great popcorn). Then it was on to Indy for Bouchercon, the world's largest mystery convention, where I cavorted with authors, readers, agents, publishers and the like. Finally, I find myself in Vegas recovering from a birthday weekend. From here, it's on to Denver for a visit with my friend Amy and to see a Rob Thomas show.

After all that, I return to Chicago with nothing planned except a few last IZZY book signings. The first is this Thursday night at the amazing Evanston boutique called Chalk. Hope to see you all there, and if not, I'll be at the Book Stall on November 17th (Event begins 7 p.m. at 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093 (847) 446.8880) with the fabulous authors Theresa Schwegel and Libby Hellman.

Finally, for those of you following the Life After Innocence Project at Loyola, there is a great article about the love story between on our client, Dean Cage and his fiance, Jewel Mitchell, on CNN.com. The Life After Innocence new web site is due to go live in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, you can follow us on our blog (blogs.luc.edu/afterinnocence/) or on Twitter (@afterinnocence) and you can catch me there too (@LauraACaldwell).


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Published on November 19, 2009 00:00 • 77 views
Well, its official - I'm writing four more Izzy books. I am into number four now. I don't have a title yet and can't decide if I should continue to use the "Red" titles. If you have any thoughts, please let me know.

In the meantime, I have a few last book events for the Izzy books this month. If you happen to be in any of these areas, I'd love to see you. This weekend I will be in Milwaukee on Thursday and Madison, WI on Saturday. Next week I will be in Indianapolis for Bouchercon, the annual mystery conference. Finally, on October 29th, I'll be in Evanston, Illinois at the amazing boutique Chalk. Please come out for a glass of champagne, some shopping, the books or just to visit. The dates and information for all these events are on my news page.

I really appreciate all the comments on the Izzy books (or the others). Keep 'em coming - anything good, bad or in-between is welcome. Write to info@lauracaldwell.com.

Take care and thanks for reading!


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Published on November 19, 2009 00:00 • 59 views

November 17, 2009

I've been getting a lot of flack lately about how I’m too attached to football, in particular to Iowa football and the Bears. Maybe I should explain—football is simply in my blood. My father played on the 1st football team for Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock where I grew up. When I was in high school, our team not only won the 2A class football championship, but Woodstock High School, the other school in our tiny town, won the 4A class. So this small, little burg near the Wisconsin border captured 2 out of 6 championships in the entire state of Illinois.

I went on to attend college at University of Iowa. During my first year, Iowa was ranked number 1 under Coach Hayden Fry. On a chilly fall night, we played Number 2 ranked Michigan coached by Bo Schembechler. With two seconds left, Rob Houghtlin kicked a field goal to win the game. I rushed onto the field with the rest of the crowd, the band blaring “In Heaven There Is No Beer." You can watch a great clip of the kick and the pandemonium after: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQqfrb.... Later, I was a cheer leader at Iowa, kneeling on the turf and screaming myself hoarse during games, jetting with the team to bowl games. So is it true that football is a silly diversion from life and that one shouldn’t get too attached? Probably. But aside from being in my blood, it's just damn fun. Period. Even when you lose. And the fact is, I like fun.

You know what else is fun? Girls getting together and having a book signing. That's what I'll be doing tomorrow night with Libby Hellman and Theresa Schwegel at the Book Stall in Winnetka (811 Elm St, Winnetka, IL, 847.446.8880). We'll be chatting, reading and signing books starting at 7:00 PM. It's open to the public and we'd love to see all of you there. If you can’t make it or need signed books for holiday gifts, call the store, tell them how you want the books personalized and they’ll have us sign. You can then pick up the books or have them sent to you. Afterwards, we'll be grabbing a drink at Seul’s Tavern (1735 Orchard Ln , Winnetka). For those of you who read the Izzy books, you know that my love for dive bars has split over into Izzy’s personality. I’m looking forward to checking this place out. Hope you can join us.
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Published on November 17, 2009 12:34 • 197 views
October was my month for travel. First, I went to Napa with girlfriends and bled the countryside of wine. Next, I went to the Wisconsin Literary Festival in Madison (Great town, great people, great popcorn). Then it was on to Indy for Bouchercon, the world's largest mystery convention, where I cavorted with authors, readers, agents, publishers and the like. Finally, I find myself in Vegas recovering from a birthday weekend. From here, it's on to Denver for a visit with my friend Amy and to see a Rob Thomas show.

After all that, I return to Chicago with nothing planned except a few last IZZY book signings. The first is this Thursday night at the amazing Evanston boutique called Chalk. Hope to see you all there, and if not, I'll be at the Book Stall on November 17th (Event begins 7 p.m. at 811 Elm Street, Winnetka, IL 60093 (847) 446.8880) with the fabulous authors Theresa Schwegel and Libby Hellman.

Finally, for those of you following the Life After Innocence Project at Loyola, there is a great article about the love story between on our client, Dean Cage and his fiance, Jewel Mitchell, on CNN.com. The Life After Innocence new web site is due to go live in the coming weeks, and in the meantime, you can follow us on our blog (blogs.luc.edu/afterinnocence/)
or on Twitter (@afterinnocence) and you can catch me there too (@LauraACaldwell).
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Published on November 17, 2009 12:33 • 107 views