Thursday, October 31, 2013

WPA Library Project Poster: October

Love this WPA Library Project Poster (1936-1940) ...  I post it every year because it always makes me smile! October's Bright Blue Weather--always a good time to read!!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Michael Palmer: R.I.P.

Sad to hear that thriller writer Michael Palmer has passed away. Thoughts are with his family.

Happy Halloween! Bloody Cocktails & Deadly Wine!

Happy Halloween!! Bloody Cocktails and Deadly Wine!


Chateau Du Vampire Wines Bordeaux Style Cabernet Blend (Vampire Vineyards – Paso Robles, California): blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%) with cabernet franc (30%), and 10% malbec to finish it off.

Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon (Vampire vineyards – Paso Robles, California): Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from several small-berry clones of this traditional Bordeaux varietal, grown in the Paso Robles region of California’s Central Coast.

Dracula Wines: Zinfandel and Syrah (originally the grapes for this wine were grown on the Transylvanian plateau, now they're made from California grapes).

Trueblood Napa Valley Syrah: This wine will "bruise your soul" with its palate crushing cherry, plum smoke and spice.

Ghost Block: 100% cabernet from Rock Cairn Vineyard in Oakville, next to Yountville's Pioneer Cemetery.

River of Skulls from Twisted Oak Winery in Calaveras County. Limited production vineyard mouvedre (red wine grape). Label has a bright red skull. English translation of calaveras is "skulls."

Ghostly White Chardonnay and Bone Dry Red Cabernet Sauvignon. Elk Creek Vineyards in Kentucky

Poizin from Armida Winery in Healdsburg is a 'wine to die for..". This Zinfandel sold in little wooden coffins

Big Red Monster  Red wine made from Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.

Other Wines: Witches Brew, Evil (upside down and backwards label), Sinister Hand, Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad, Zeller Schwarz Katz.

Want to give the personal touch to your Halloween wines? Add ghoulish labels or rebottle in cool jars with apothecary labels from Pottery Barn (or do them yourself). For a great article, go to Spooky Halloween Bottle & Glass Labels.


And what about an awesome cocktail? Make Nick and Nora proud! They always loved a good party. Throw in some rubber spiders or eyeballs as garnish. Want to make your own Halloween Cocktail Garnish--some eyeballs and fingersClick HERE.

Blood Bath
1 Part Tequila Silver
1 Part Strawberry Liqueur

Shake with ice, and strain into shot glass.

Blodd Test
1 Part Tequila Reposado
1 Part Grenadine

Shake with ice and strain into shot glass

Blood Shot
1 part Iceberg Vodka
1 part peach schnapps
1 part Jagermeister
1 part cranberry juice

Chill all ingredients. Combine in shaker with ice. Strain into shot glass. shoot!

2 oz VeeV Acai Spirit
1 oz acai juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
Top with fresh champagne
lime wedge for garnish

Combine VeeV, Acai juice and fresh lime with fresh ice in a cocktail shaker and shake.
Strain into chilled martini glass and top with champagne.
Serve with fresh lime wedge.

Blood and Sand
3/4 ounce Scotch
3/4 ounce cherry liqueur
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce orange juice
1 thin strip orange zest

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the liquids. Strain into martini glass, then garnish with the strip of zest. (recipe from Bank Cafe & Bar in Napa)

Corpse Reviver
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Lillet (blanc)
1 ounce triple sec
Juice of half a lemon
5 drops of absinthe
1 thin slice orange

In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the liquids. Strain into martini glass, then garnish with the orange slice.
(Recipe from Epic Roasthouse in San Francisco)

Vampire Blood Punch
4 cups cranberry raspberry juice (or cranberry juice cocktail)
2 cups natural pineapple juice (100% juice)
2 cups raspberry-flavored seltzer water
wormy ice cubes (optional)

Mix all ingredients together, and pour into large, decorative punch bowl.
Serve punch with wormy ice cubes, if desired

Corzo Bite
1-1/2 parts Corzo Silver Tequila
1/2 parts Campari
1 part fresh blood orange juice
1/4 parts blood (aka home-made grenadine) **
2 parts Jarritos Tamarindo Soda

Build all ingredients into highball glass filled with ice. Add “blood” at the end.
Garnish: Blood orange wheel and strawberry syrup

** Home-made grenadine: Add equal parts white sugar and POM pomegranate juice together and dissolve sugar over high on stove-top

Midori Eye-Tini (from Rob Husted of Florida)
1-1⁄4 parts Midori Melon liqueur
3⁄4 parts SKYY Infusions Citrus
1⁄2 part Finest Call Agave Syrup
2 parts of Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale
2 parts Finest Call Sweet & Sour Mix
3 Orange Wedges
2 Fresh Ripped Basil Leaves
Strawberry Sundae Syrup

In shaker glass combine Midori Melon liqueur, SKYY infusions Citrus, Finest Call Agave Syrup, 3 Orange Wedges and 2 Fresh Ripped Basil Leaves.
Muddle ingredients together. Add ice and Finest Call Sweet & Sour Mix.
Shake for 10 seconds.
Add Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale and roll drink back and forth between your mixing tin and shaker glass.
Strain into a chilled martini glass drizzled with Strawberry Sundae Syrup to give an effect of a bloodshot eye.

Garnish: Chilled red seedless grape at bottom of glass (to look like an eyeball) and bruised basil leaf floated on top of cocktail for aroma.

Black Martini
The Black Martini replaces vermouth with either blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur.
3 1/2 oz gin or vodka
1/2 oz blackberry brandy or black raspberry liqueur
lemon twist or black olive for garnish or gold flakes

Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously.
Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist or black olive or sprinkle in gold flakes.

Lawrence Block on Craig Ferguson

Larry Block was on with Craig Ferguson last night! Fab interview, especially that Craig Ferguson really knows and reads the authors he interviews. Lawrence Block has a new Burglar book that he 'self-published'.

What's in a Title: Guest post by Charles Salzberg

Today I welcome award nominated mystery writer Charles Salzberg.

Charles Salzberg is a freelance writer who's work has appeared in New York, Esquire, GQ and The New York Times. His novel, Swann's Last Song was nominated for a Shamus Award for Best First PI Novel. The sequel, Swann Dives In was published last fall and was just released as an e-book, and the next in the series, Swann's Lake of Despair, will be published next year.  His latest novel is Devil in the Hole. None of these titles came easy for him.He teaches writing at the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member.

For many writers, me included, writing is a snap when compared to finding a good title for your novel.

Sometimes you’re lucky. The title pops into your head almost immediately, perhaps even before you start actually writing. But for me, at least, that’s the exception rather than the rule. I have friends who have gone through lists of possible titles that grow exponentially as does their frustration at getting just the right one, the one that not only reflects what’s between the covers, but will also make the reader pick up that book and eventually buy it. One friend actually sent me a series of half a dozen emails, each containing at least half a dozen possible titles for her book. In the end, I don’t think she went with any of them.

One of my favorite book title stories was told to me by one of my heroes, Bruce Jay Friedman. In the 1950s, a lot of aspiring writers came to New York City and found work in the magazine industry, especially the old men’s adventure magazines. Bruce was editor of one of them and working under him was a fellow named Mario Puzo. One day, Puzo came to Bruce and said, “Bruce, I’ve just finished this novel about the Mafia. What do you think of The Godfather as the title?” Friedman shook his head disapprovingly and said, “no, too domestic.”

My second favorite story comes from a former student of mine, Joel Chasnoff, who was working on a memoir in my class. He grew up a middle-class kid in Chicago, but he always idolized and dreamed about joining the Israeli army. To make a long, funny story short, at 25 he emigrated to Israel and, after much trouble, managed to join the Israeli army, where he found that instead of training with the soldiers who raided Entebbe, it was more like a bunch of 10-year old Keystone Kops. He graduates army school and finds himself on tank duty on the border with Lebanon. His job was as a spotter. It’s late one night and through his night goggles he spots movement hundreds of yards ahead of him. “Hezbollah,” he shouts, and the gunner aims the artillery in that direction. Suddenly, Joel sees the figure squat down on the ground and start licking itself. “Stop,” he yells, “it’s a dog.” Too late. They fire, demolishing the poor animal. The name of his book: The Unluckiest Dog in Lebanon.

I thought it was a terrific title, but when he sold it his editor at Simon and Schuster didn’t like it so much. “They think people will think it’s a book about dogs,” he told me. “You should only be so lucky,” I said, knowing that dog books sell incredibly well.

They changed it to The 188th Crybaby Brigade.

I still prefer the original, and who knows how many dog lovers would now know everything about the Israeli army.

I have a writer friend who’s in advertising who likes the idea of one word titles, but that’s putting a lot of pressure on just one word. Some authors go to poetry, or to song titles, or to the Bible, not only for inspiration but for catchy titles.

For me, it’s always been difficult, except when it’s not.

My first detective novel came pretty easily, especially once I came up with the name for my skip-tracer protagonist—Henry Swann. The novel had him following all the clues to find a killer but ultimately finding that the murder was simply a random crime, and so his world of rationality, of everything making sense if you put the pieces together properly, is rocked and he quits the business. Hence, Swann’s Last Song.

It was meant to be a stand-alone, not part of a series. But when it was nominated for a Shamus Award and I lost, I was inspired to keep going. When I started a sequel, it was called Bad Reception, a title with several meanings since when the book opens Swann has quit the business and has a new career installing cable TV. And when he’s sucked back into the world of crime, his reception is not a particularly good one. But halfway into the book someone pointed out that if I were planning on keeping the series up, I’d have to brand the character and keep using his name in the title. Fortunately, that wasn’t difficult, and Bad Reception (which I fell in love with so I used it as a chapter heading) became Swann Dives In. Next year, Swann’s Lake of Despair will be published, and now I’m working on Swann’s Way Out.

That’s pretty easy, until, of course, I run out of catch Swann titles.

My latest book wasn’t that simple. A novel based on a true crime wherein a man murders his entire family and disappears, is told through the eyes of numerous narrators. When I started the book, several years ago, the working title was Rude Awakening. But as I got further and further into the book, that didn’t seem right. In getting into the mind of a murderer, I was trying to show that any of us, given the right circumstances and the right frame of mind, might be able to kill someone. And so, I changed the title to Skin Deep.

But I was never happy with that. I kept thinking of it as a good title for a porn film.

Just before I was ready to send it out to my agent and editor, I was walking down the street, plugged into my Ipod shuffle, when Tom Waits came on singing the theme from The Wire, “Way Down in the Hole.” There it was: Devil in the Hole. It was perfect. I sent the manuscript out and two weeks later, it was scooped up, and I’m convinced the title had a lot to do with it.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Happy Halloween! Here's my updated list of Halloween Mysteries. I know I've missed a few titles, so please comment below with titles and authors. I'd like to make this list as complete as possible. Boo!!


Green Water Ghost by Glynn Marsh Alam
Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert 
Antiques Maul by Barbara Allan
In Charm's Way by Madelyn Alt
Far to Go by May Louise Aswell
Killing Time by Amy Beth Arkaway
Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun by Kathleen Bacus 
Trick or Treachery: A Murder She Wrote Mystery by Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher
In the Spirit of Murder by Laura Belgrave 
The Long Good Boy by Carol Lea Benjamin
Spackled and Spooked by Jennie Bentley 
Watchdog by Laurien Berenson
Witches of Floxglove Corners by Dorothy Bodoin 
Death of a Trickster by Kate Borden 
Post-Mortem Effects by Thomas Boyle
A Graveyard for Lunatics, The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts by Lilian Jackson Braun
The Hunt Ball, The Litter of the Law by Rita Mae Brown
Death on All Hallowe'en by Leo Bruce
Halloween by Leslie Burgess
Wycliffe and the Scapegoat by W.J. Burley
Death Goes Shopping by Jessica Burton
Wolf in Sheep's Clothing by Ann Campbell
The Charm Stone by Lillian Stewart Carl
The Wizard of La-La Land by R. Wright Campbell
The Halloween Murders by John Newton Chance 
Death with an Ocean View by Nora Charles 
Frill Kill, Tragic Magic, Photo Finished, Bedeviled Eggs The Jasmine Moon Murder, Fiber and Brimstone, Bedeviled Eggs by Laura Childs
Hallowe'en Party by Agatha Christie 
Lost Souls by Michael Collins
Not in My Backyard by Susan Rogers Cooper
Night of the Living Deed by E.J. Copperman
A Ghost to Die For by Elizabeth Eagan-Cox
A Catered Halloween by Isis Crawford
Silver Scream, Bantam of the Opera, The Alpine Uproar by Mary Daheim
Halloween Hijinks by Kathi Daley
The Dracula Murders by Philip Daniels
The Diva Haunts the House by Krista Davis
Fatal Undertaking by Mark de Castrique
Throw Darts at a Cheesecake by Denise Dietz
Trick or Treat, The Halloween Murder by Doris Miles Disney
A Map of the Dark by John Dixon
Ghostly Murders by P. C. Doherty
Died to Match by Deborah Donnelly
Cat with an Emerald Eye by Carole Nelson Douglas
Not Exactly a Brahmin by Susan Dunlap 
Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones by Kaitlyn Dunnett 
The Bowl of Night by Rosemary Edghill 
Door of Death by John Esteven 
The Witchfinder by Loren D. Estleman 
Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich 
Dead Ends by Anne C. Fallon 
Sympathy For The Devil by Jerrilyn Farmer
Dead in the Pumpkin Patch by Connie Feddersen 
Blackwork, Hanging by a Thread, Blackwork by Monica Ferris
Scary Stuff by Sharon Fiffer
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Honora Finkelstein 
Trick or Treachery by "Jessica Fletcher" and Donald Bain
The Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Halloween Murder, Foul Play at the Fair by Shelley Freydont
Broke by Kaye George
Trick or Treat by Leslie Glaister
Mommy and the Murder by Nancy Gladstone
Haunted by Jeanne Glidewell 
A Few Dying Words by Paula Gosling
The Black Heart Crypt by Chris Grabenstein (YA)
Monster in Miniature by Margaret Grace  
Hell for the Holidays by Chris Gravenstein 
Nail Biter by Sarah Graves 
Deadly Harvest by Heather Graham 
Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood 
Halloween by Ben Greer 
The Sanfued Snatch by Jackie Griffey 
Quoth the Raven, Skeleton Key by Jane Haddam
Hallowed Bones by Carolyn Haines
Southern Ghost, Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart 
Sweet Poison by Ellen Hart
Hide in the Dark by Frances Noyes Hart 
Revenge of the Cootie Girls by Sparkle Hayter
Town in a Pumpkin Bash by B.B. Haywood
The Fallen Man by Tony Hillerman 
The Color of Blood by Declan Hughes  
Murder on the Ghost Walk by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter 
Already Dead by Charlie Huston
Long Time No See by Susan Isaacs
The Pumpkin Thief, The Great Pumpkin Caper by Melanie Jackson
Murder Among Us by Jonnie Jacobs
A Murder Made in Stitches by Pamela James 
The Violet Hour by Daniel Judson
Muffins & Murder by Heather Justesen
Wed and Buried by Toni L.P. Kelner
Verse of the Vampyre by Diana Killian
Pumpkin Roll by Josi S. Kilpack 
The Animal Hour by Andrew Klavan 
Ghastly Glass by Joyce and Jim Lavene 
Death of a Neighborhood Witch by Laura Levine 
Death Knocks Twice by James H. Lilley 
Poisoned by Elaine Macko 
Halloween Flight 77 by Debbie Madison 
Satan's Silence by Alex Matthews 
Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery by Ed McBain 
Poisoned Tarts by G.A. McKevett
Death on All Hallows by Allen Campbell McLean 
Trick or Treat Murder, Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier 
Dancing Floor, Prince of Darkness by Barbara Michaels
Monster in Miniature by Camille Minichino 
The Violet Hour by Richard Montanari
Dead End by Helen R. Myers
Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers 
Hatchet Job by J.E. Neighbors
Retribution by Patrick J. O'Brien 
Halloween House by Ed Okonowicz
The Body in the Moonlight by Katherine Hall Page 
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge 
Twilight by Nancy Pickard 
Murder at Witches Bluff by Silver Ravenwolf
Poltergeist by Kat Richardson 
Death Notice by Todd Ritter 
Spook Night by David Robbins 
A Hole in Juan by Gillian Roberts
Murder in a Nice Neighborhood by Lora Roberts
Magnolias, Moonlight, and Murder by Sara Rosett
Scared Stiff by Annelise Ryan
Death of Halloween by Kim Sauke
Mighty Old Bones by Mary Saums 
Murder Ole! by Corinne Holt Sawyer
Dance of the Scarecrows by Ray Sipherd
The Sterling Inheritance by Michael Siverling
The Lawyer Who Died Trying by Susan Smily
Recipe for Murder by Janet Elaine Smith
Carbs and Cadavers by J.B. Stanley
In the Blink of an Eye, Halloween Party by Wendy Corsi Staub 
Murder of a Royal Pain by Denise Swanson
Mourning Shift by Kathleen Taylor
Halloween Homicide by Lee Thayer
Inked Up by Terri Thayer
Charlie's Web by L.L. Thrasher
Gods of the Nowhere by James Tipper
Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trochek
How to Party with a Killer Vampire by Penny Warner
Murder by the Slice by Livia J. Washburn 
Five-Minute Halloween Mysteries by Ken Weber
The Scarecrow Murders by Mary Welk
Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner 
Killer Mousse by Melinda Wells
Ghoul of My Dreams by Richard F. West
All Hallow's Eve by Charles Williams
Killer See, Killer Do by Jonathan Wolfe
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien

And here's a list of Halloween Mystery Short Story anthologies:

Deadly Treats: Halloween Tales of Mystery, Magic and Mayhem, Edited by Anne Frasier 
Trick and Treats edited by Joe Gores & Bill Pronzini
Asking for the Moon (includes "Pascoe's Ghost" and "Dalziel's Ghost") by Reginald Hill
Murder for Halloween by Cynthia Manson
The Haunted Hour, edited by Cynthia Manson & Constance Scarborough
Murder for Halloween: Tales of Suspense, edited by Michele Slung & Roland Hartman.
Mystery for Halloween (an anthology), edited by Donald Westlake
Halloween Horrors, edited by Alan Ryan
All Hallows' Evil, edited by Sarah E. Glenn

Broadchurch: The Novel

The Crime Vault  reports that Little, Brown Book Group has bought World rights to a novel inspired by the first series of 2013’s mega-hit ITV series Broadchurch.

Jade Chandler, Commissioning Editor for Sphere Fiction, has acquired World rights from Cathy King at Independent Talent, representing award-winning Broadchurch screenwriter Chris Chibnall. The project is endorsed fully by the production company, Kudos, a member of the Shine Group.

The novel will be co-written by Chris Chibnall and critically acclaimed psychological thriller author Erin Kelly, represented by Sarah Ballard/Zoe Ross at United Agents. As well as including previously unseen material, the novel will elaborate on the existing plot, delving deeper into the lives and backstories of the existing characters. The novel will be published in August 2014.

Read more HERE. 

HT: Erin Mitchell

Lou Reed: R.I.P. "Dime Store Mystery" Recording

Lou Reed lead singer of the Velvet Underground,  chronicler of life's wilder, seamier and more desperate side and one of the most influential and distinctive songwriters of his generation, has died at the age of 71. He had been suffering from liver failure and received a transplant earlier this year. See Tributes from Musicians and writers below.

Lou Reed loved the classics: Chandler, Hammett...and others.

Lou Reed: Dime Store Mystery from the New York Album

From the Guardian: Tributes from musicians and writers that have appeared on social media.

David Bowie said on his Facebook page: "He was a master."
Iggy Pop called it "devastating news".
Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth wrote: "So sorry to hear of Lou Reed's passing this is a huge shock!" The chef and author Anthony Bourdain quoted the Velvet Underground's song Sweet Jane: "'Heavenly wine and roses … seem to whisper to me … when you smile' … RIP Lou Reed."
Lloyd Cole wrote: "Without Lou there is no Bowie as we know him. Me? I'd probably be a maths teacher."
Ryan Adams said only: "Lou Reed."
Nile Rodgers of the funk band Chic tweeted: "Lou Reed, RIP I did the Jools Holland show with him last year and we yucked it up. I didn't know he was ill."
The writer Salman Rushdie opted to commemorate the singer in a message heavy with references to his songs: "My friend Lou Reed came to the end of his song. So very sad. But hey, Lou, you'll always take a walk on the wild side. Always a perfect day."

Lou Reed: R.I.P.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

George Pelecanos Masterclass

Crime Fiction Academy Masterclass Tuesday, October 29 

NYC Bestselling crime writer George Pelecanos will offer advice to budding young authors.

$10 Members $12 General Admission Free to Members of CFA When: Tuesday, October 29th, 7:00 pm

Where: The Center For Fiction 17 East 47th Street

Call to reserve your seat: (212) 755-6710

GEORGE PELECANOS is the author of 18 novels, the recipient of a Raymond Chandler award, the Falcon award and the Grand Prix du Roman Noir. He was producer, writer and story editor for the acclaimed TV series "THE WIRE" and executive producer and writer for HBO's series "TREME."

Thursday, October 24, 2013


The Crime Writers' Association (UK) announced more Dagger winners tonight at the Crime Thriller Awards. This awards ceremony will be televised on itv3, Sunday, October 27, at 9p.m.

Goldsboro Gold Dagger: (best crime novel of the year)
Dead Lions by Mick Herron (Soho)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger:  (best thriller of the year)
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs (Transworld)

John Creasey New Blood: (best new crime writer of the year)
Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (Faber & Faber)

Bill Petrocelli: Solved: The Mystery of the Mystery Seller who became a Mystery Writer

Today I'm very pleased to welcome bookseller Bill Petrocelli. Bill has 'crossed the line' from mystery bookseller to mystery writer, and it's an amazing ride. You have to read The Circle of Thirteen.

Bill Petrocelli and his wife Elaine own one of the country's leading independent bookstores, Book Passage, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Both Petrocellis have been highly active in the bookselling business nationally. Elaine Petrocelli was named “1997 Bookseller of the Year” by Publishers Weekly magazine, while Bill Petrocelli has served two terms on the board of directors of the American Booksellers Association. As a former Deputy Attorney General for the State of California and a poverty lawyer in Oakland, Bill has long been an advocate for women’s rights. His previous books include Low Profile: How to Avoid the Privacy Invaders and Sexual Harassment on the Job: What it is and How to Stop it. The Circle of Thirteen is his first novel. For more information, please visit

** Giveaway ** WIN A COPY OF THE CIRCLE OF THIRTEEN. Comment below to be entered.**

Solved: The Mystery of the Mystery Seller who became a Mystery Writer 

Let me introduce you to Julia Moro, the Security Director for the revitalized United Nations. At the moment – which happens to be 2082 – she is trying to foil a terrorist plot against the U.N.

Yes, I’ve now joined the thriller-writing ranks.

The Circle of Thirteen is now sharing space at Book Passage with the hundreds of other mysteries on our shelves. I’m happy to be in such good company. I’ve been hanging around with mystery writers for so long, it’s inevitable that a lot of their ideas would have rubbed off on me. The real question is: why did it take so long?

The Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference is now entering its 20th year. During that time we’ve welcomed more than 600 mystery writers as faculty members. (We’ve also welcomed over 1,500 attendees to those conferences, many of whom have gone on to be published mystery writers. And some of them, have come back as faculty members. But that’s another story). And if you add in the hundreds of mystery writers who stop by the store each year for author events, you end up with many, many hours that we’ve spent thinking and talking about perps, vics, wits, and all the other staples of crime-writing.

That sampling of mystery writers is probably big enough for a statistician – even an amateur statistician, like me – to draw some conclusions. First, mystery writers are nice people. Sure, there are lots of other nice people in the world, but mystery writers are nicer than most. If this were a bell-curve, they’d mostly be huddled over on the right side. And there’s a pleasant corollary to that: mystery writers make good faculty members. They’re easy to work with and willing to share ideas with students.

There’s a theory what could explain this: mystery writers spend so much time getting their aggressions out on paper and channeling the nasty parts of their psyche through their villains, that they are perfectly pleasant when it’s all over. It seems valid to me.

Here’s another generality about mystery writers: they don’t horse around with inconsequential stuff. Good mystery writing is visceral. That’s not just because of the blood, the gore, or – pardon the expression – the viscera described at the scene of the crime. Rather, it is visceral because the language of mysteries is usually specific and tactile, being rooted in characters, situations, details, and clues. Good mystery writers adhere to the dictum of the late, great Elmore Leonard: “Leave out the part readers skip.” In a good mystery, the tension doesn’t wander off in extraneous directions. It’s the kind of writing I like to read.

But is it the kind of writing I could write? That was the challenge I was up against when I began The Circle or Thirteen. The idea behind the story was to take a look at the changing role of women in our society by setting the story a few decades into the future. I wanted the scenes to be close enough to the present to seem relevant, but I didn’t want them so close that readers would expect me to fill in all the missing details (“Who wins the next election?” “How’s the market doing?” “What does the next IPhone look like?”). Readers might think they want that, but those types of scenes would quickly run afoul of Elmore Leonard’s dictum. Readers would skip them and be annoyed with me for even tempting them to read them.

There were other problems as well. Telling such a story in a linear fashion, like a family saga, would force me to make up all kinds of extraneous, intervening detail that would even put me to sleep. The plot would have all the tension of yesterday’s noodle soup.

In the end I employed a plot device used to great success by the British crime writer Robert Wilson in A Small Death in Lisbon. Wilson won a Gold Dagger for that great mystery novel in 1999. In it, he employed two narratives – one a contemporaneous story that was compressed within a few days; the other an historical tale stretching over 40 or so years. As the historical narrative inevitably caught up with the contemporary one, the tension was ratcheted up.

And that brings me back to Julia Moro, as she tries to protect the United Nations. While she is focused on foiling a terrorist plot, the history of the last several decades is beginning to close in on her. She’d love to tell you about everything she is going through.

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo (Tom Johansen) opted for film

Warner Bros has opted Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo (writing as Tom Johansen). Nesbo will be an executive producer on the film and Leonardo DiCaprio will co-produce and may also act in the film.

On top writing two books as Tom Johansen – Blood on Snow and Blood on Snow 2: More Blood – Jo Nesbo plans to use his alter ego as a character in a third book. This will come out under the Jo Nesbo by-line, but Tom Johansen will appear in the book, which will be called The Kidnapping. Tom Johansen will be the character kidnapped in the story.


And, in case you missed this: 

Jo Nesbø’s British publisher Harvill Secker has agreed to the publication of Tom Johansen’s books. The first coming fall of 2014, "Blood on Snow" and "Blood on Snow 2" will be published with the author’s new name.

"After the great success of "Headhunters" and Harry Hole series, we are very pleased to partner with Jo on this exciting new project, and we look forward to revealing more about Tom Johansen’s mysterious world in the near future, says Secker.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Burglar is Back!

The big news today is that The Burglar is Back! Lawrence Block announced today in his newsletter that he's written another Bernie Rhodenbarr mystery: The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons. And, he chose to publish it himself, so it's available now!

Here's the story from Lawrence Block:

A couple of months ago I boarded the MS Veendam in Boston’s tea-stained harbor, and five weeks later it returned to port and I disembarked with a book written. I told you that much a while ago, and now I can add what you’ve already surmised from a glance at the cover. The book’s title is The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons, and it’s the eleventh volume about Mrs. Rhodenbarr’s son Bernie.

In the ordinary course of things, you’d be able to read it somewhere around the end of next year or the beginning of 2015. But do you really want to wait that long?

Well, by George, you don’t have to. I’ve chosen to publish the book myself, with a release date of December 25. And, because the good people at Amazon have so arranged matters, you can click here right now and pre-order The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons as either an eBook or a handsome trade paperback. (And handsome’s the word for it. Isn’t that a gorgeous cover?)

The eBook’s priced at $9.99, and available only at Amazon. The trade paperback’s $14.99, and more widely available. And I know y’all have questions, so go ahead and ask them.

Read More Here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Al Navis: R.I.P.

Sad news. Al Navis, bookseller, Radio personality, Kennedy Assassination expert, and organizer of the Toronto Bouchercon, died of cancer on October 13. Arrangements for a Memorial will be posted. His wry sense of humor and tenacity sustained him until the end.

A September 4 post on his Facebook page: 

An update on my cancer diagnosis. I will undergo radiation treatments five days a week for 6½ weeks beginning in a week or two. Hey that means I can read in the dark! Concurrent with the radiation will be once-a-week chemotherapy (due to the time proximity of my heart attack, they couldn't do the more standard once-every-three-weeks dose). Well I can't lose my hair...that's already gone! 

I will give them these 6-8 weeks but honestly, there is a large difference between quality of life and quantity of life and I don't want to merely exist, I want to live.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

New Philip Marlowe for ABC

Variety reports:

ABC is developing a contemporary spin on Raymond Chandler’s enduring gumshoe Philip Marlowe, shepherded by “Castle” showrunner Andrew Marlowe and Michael De Luca

Fellow “Castle” scribe Terri Edda Miller is co-writing the script with Marlowe (pictured above with Miller). The pair exec produce for ABC Studios with De Luca, a film vet who has become active in TV in recent years. 

Marlowe and Miller’s spin on the hard-boiled, wise-cracking private eye is described as a “sexy and stylish” update on the character whose job famously took him into the seamy side of the City of Angels. 

The bar is high for scribes and prospective stars, because it’ll be hard to top the work of Dick Powell in the 1944 pic adaptation of “Murder, My Sweet” or Humphrey Bogart in 1946′s “The Big Sleep.” 

Marlowe has been the showrunner of ABC’s “Castle,” the murder-mystery drama starring Nathan Fillion, since its inception. Miller is a writer and consulting producer on the show. De Luca’s TV projects include TNT’s upcoming drama “Mob City” and a redo of “Shogun” for Fox.

Love by Drowning: Q & A with C.E. Poverman

Today I'm posting a Q & A with author C.E. Poverman.  

C. E. Poverman’s first book of stories, The Black Velvet Girl, won the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction. His second, Skin, was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His stories have appeared in the O’Henry, Pushcart, and other anthologies.  His previous novels are Susan, Solomon’s Daughter, My Father in Dreams, and On the Edge.

Love by Drowning: Q&A with C.E. Poverman.

The following Q&A was provided by the publisher, El Leon Literary Arts

Q. How did this story come to you? 

A. I think it began with my reading a story in a boating magazine about a guy being pulled overboard in an incident much like the one I describe in the opening of Love by Drowning. One minute, he is handling the wire leader of a smallish marlin, and the next minute he’s over the side and gone in maybe 20 or 30 seconds. I sat up in my chair and was freaked. I cut out the article with absolutely no idea how or if I could use it. And that’s just writer’s work, writer’s routine. Stuff going by you all the time, catching your interest. What is it? What does it mean? It’s also a seismograph which registers activity inside you of which you are unaware; it can lead you places. When I had the reaction to the story, I had no idea it might turn into a novel. No idea who the characters might be. Or what would happen to them. (I believe Herman Melville must have experienced a moment like this when he heard about a whale attacking a whaler, the Essex, ramming her so hard that she sank. Out of this came Moby Dick.)

Q. Why do you think the story had such an effect on you? 

A. I’d grown up on boats; my father always had boats and handling them, working on them, smelling them, getting tossed around in them were second nature. I was always comfortable—pretty at ease—but implicit in your being on a boat is that you can get knocked overboard, injured, run over. For years, boats ran through my dreams; right in there with all the standard anxiety dreams—late to take a test, can’t find the classroom, the one where you’re teaching a class but you’re naked, or you’ve lost something and can’t find it and the race/game starts in one minute, etc.—were boat dreams: the boat is filling with water, the boat’s going down, something huge and monstrous is coming up from below, you are under a black sky heading into a huge storm, etc. So that article landed in the middle of my fears; when I’m on a boat, I keep a deck knife with me; hopefully you can reach it quickly if something snags you and pulls you over; maybe, just maybe, you can cut yourself free. A friend of mine, a very experienced sailor, sailing his huge catamaran, went to slacken a jib sheet which was carrying a huge load. When he released it from the winch, the line encircled his leg, and broke it so badly he almost lost the leg. Time elapsed: one heartbeat. So I was finely attuned to that kind of accident.

Q. After you read the article, did the story just evolve from there? How long did it take you to write the book? 

A. I wish. There was no story as yet. I read the article and put it away. Maybe a year went by. Within that time, my father died over the winter. The summer after, we are in a beach house in Madison, Connecticut. My mother and my family are there—wife, kids. Two of my sister’s three boys are there. My sister had been in a terrible motorcycle accident in her late twenties—sudden catastrophe—had not died, but couldn’t carry on by herself. My parents raised her three boys from the time they were young children. So, in a sense they were like half-brothers. Now here we are all in this house, father gone, a sense of absence, maybe regret and missed opportunities; these two brothers are now in their mid-twenties and in the midst of their male/brother rivalries—jiving and teasing, one very charming and funny and impossible and pretty dyslexic in his growing up, very competitive and athletic—you know the drill; we are two blocks from the water and I’m not so much thinking about water and ocean as breathing it in—water, the ocean, boats, which for me, is my father, and all the time spent on boats and a sense of loss and the way my first growing up family had been shattered by my sister’s accident, always the elephant in the room—and here am I caught up in the chemistry of the brothers and my own kids there and my grief for my father. I just started writing something. I didn’t know what it was or what it would be. The book took me five years to write.

Q. Not having a brother yourself, where do the family dynamics between your characters Val and Davis derive from? 

A. My sister’s three sons were like half-brothers in some respects. But even if I didn’t have brothers, it’s a writer’s job to be a shape shifter, to be Protean, and to be able to write from all points of view. Hemingway in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber has a passage where he writes from the lion’s point of view. I’m not a woman, but I write from Lee Anne’s point of view in several sections of Love by Drowning.

Q. Your character, Lee Anne, is quite complex with a combination of interesting female traits about her. How did her character come to you? 

A. In retrospect I believe that Lee Anne, for the most part, came out of several elements: a woman I knew who had beautiful eyes—you were just held by her gaze. You never knew when she was lying and when she was telling the truth; the combination was hellish and combustible. And now I’m thinking of a friend; somehow in the way she was living her life, she seemed to draw bizarre situations out of the air; for example, her hair caught fire in a bar she was working in—too much hair spray? Who knew? But this was her life. And when I was growing up, there was a girl whose father had been murdered; the girl was both magnetic and beautiful. They were girls who brought an edge, an immediacy to the present—and in fact all you could feel was a kind of incandescent streaming of their unconscious, that you were on the brink of something. You could never really be sure what was true or not. But and I came to realize, slowly and painfully, that there was something in that behavior—shall we call it mythomania? Lies? Delusion? And that I needed or sought it out. And at the same time, I knew it was destructive. Now, if I’m not ascribing too much, it seems to me that we see variations of the consequences of this kind of behavior in public figures, lies and illusions and self-deception. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; Elliot Spitzer/his call girl; the former governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford; John Edwards/wife/mistress. The parade is endless. Men who didn’t know themselves well enough to understand how one step-at-a-time they were weaving themselves and those around them into a nightmare of lies and deception and self-deception, and who destroyed themselves and lost everything—and usually it all unraveled in moments, days, weeks.

Q. Throughout the book, what do you feel continues to draw your characters Val and Lee Anne together? At the same time, what repels them? 

A. Val can’t help himself with Lee Anne—the first time he sees her, he knows there’s a lie in her. He can sense it in her gaze, something about the way her face doesn’t quite fit together. He keeps looking at her with the feeling that if he can see her just one more time he’ll be able to figure it out. He’s both attracted and repelled by this quality. And it’s the same quality which pulls him back to her after Davis’ accident. He’s drawn to her because they share Davis. By being together, they can keep Davis—Davis can live within them. And for that same reason, he’s anguished being around her.

Q. What are you currently working on? Are there other projects in the works? 

A. A lot of things. I’ve just finished a novel entitled, Grace within Her Mother’s Silence. I need to make some small, but important adjustments on that. I have the title story from my first book of stories, The Black Velvet Girl. Years ago a screenwriter and producer took an interest in it and has been trying to turn it into a screenplay. Now I’m working on that with her. I’ve finished a novel entitled Degree of Difficulty which is about competitive diving—my daughter was a diver for 12 years. I’ve written another story set in this world, Baby R, which was published in Ploughshares; I later turned it into a screenplay. And now there still seems to be something left in that world, something more I’m going to write. And other new work. Really, there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Norwegian Crime Thriller to be adapted by Fox Television

Norwegian broadcaster NRK has made its first U.S. sale of a scripted format with thriller series Mammon. 20th Century Fox Television has acquired the adaptation rights to the Norwegian crime series.

The 6-episode series, which premieres in January in Norway, centers on an investigative journalist (played by Jon Øigarden), who uncovers a massive financial fraud conspiracy and is shocked to discover his own brother may be involved. When his brother commits suicide, he begins a search for the truth. The tense six-part thriller pits brother against brother in the worlds of politics, media and finance. It hails from sibling producer/writer team Vegard and Gjermund Stenberg Eriksen.

The first episode hasn't even aired,  but NRK has ordered a second season of the series.

HT: Omnimystery News

Cartoon of the Day: Editing

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize was awarded to New Zealander Eleanor Catton for The Luminaries. Eleanor Catton is the youngest Man Booker winner in the prize's history (she is 28 but completed The Luminaries aged 27). It is also the longest ever Man Booker winning novel (832 pages).

The Luminaries, set in 1866 during the New Zealand gold rush, involves a group of 12 men gathered for a meeting in a hotel and a traveler who stumbles into their midst; the story involves a missing rich man, a dead hermit, a huge sum in gold, and a beaten-up whore. There are sex and seances, opium and lawsuits in the mystery too. The multiple voices take turns to tell their own stories and gradually what happened in the small town of Hokitika on New Zealand's South Island is revealed. 

Read more  HERE.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mr. Campion Returns

Mike Ripley tells us:

In the year which sees the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Margery Allingham Society,
Ostara Publishing is proud to publish new editions of the two novels to feature Allingham’s famous detective Albert Campion which were written by her husband, following her death in 1966.

Mr Campion’s Farthing and Mr Campion’s Falcon, first published in 1969 and 1970, were written by Philip ‘Pip’ Youngman Carter, the artist and journalist who was married to Margery Allingham for almost 40 years  (They met aged 17 and were secretly engaged at 18, marrying five years later).

Youngman Carter was an acknowledged (though un-credited) collaborator on many Allingham novels and  designed the dust-jackets for several of them. After her death, Youngman Carter completed her unfinished novel Cargo of Eagles, which was published posthumously in 1968.

Youngman Carter’s Mr Campion mysteries are now available in trade paperback and, for the first time, as eBooks. For full details see

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jonathan Santlofer: Creating Inherit the Dead, a serial novel

I'm a sucker for a serial novel, especially when's it's written by some of my favorite writers. Today I welcome Jonathan Santlofer, artist, writer, and editor of Inherit the Dead. What a challenge! 

Jonathan Santlofer:
Creating INHERIT THE DEAD, a serial novel 

Organizing a serial novel with 20 authors could have been a nightmare. I took on the job of editor thinking, Now you’re in for it, though I have to admit I have always liked working with groups of writers and artists. Maybe it’s the fascist in me but the idea of getting a collection of great writers to do what I want is pretty heady stuff. And none of them complained. (Okay, there were a few complaints but I will not say who or why.)

This is how it worked… I started by asking a bunch of writers if they were willing to participate in the project and for a good cause – in this case, donate their royalties to a charity of my choosing, (again, I was calling the shots). I chose Safe Horizon, an organization that helps victim of violent crime and abuse. I figured that writers who made money writing about crime (often violent crime) should want to give something back – and every one of these writers enthusiastically said YES. If you don’t believe the crime fiction world is a kind & gentle place this novel is proof (read Lee Child’s savvy and touching Introduction to the book that talks about just this).

Once I had the cast assembled I had a little work to do, like, write a story, break it down into 20 chapters, and do character sketches—I wanted to make it as easy as possible for the writers.

For a story, I paid homage to the greats, writers like Hammett, Chandler and MacDonald, borrowing (okay, practically stealing) a tried and true plot line but one that could be modernized and reinvented. I knew the writers would recognize the various allusions and references, have a good time, and they did. You’ll see brilliant touches of noir sleaze, humor and atmosphere on every page, and not a single author disappoints.

Everyone set their ego aside in favor of the joint effort, and yet the individual voices sing. Each author advances the plot but makes the chapter his or her own. And honestly, I don’t know how they did it. I didn’t sit on them or browbeat them (at least I don’t think so)—and they all had to write at the same time. This was no “exquisite corpse” where you get to see at least some of what came before you. The authors had to write with only my brief outlines, one for the general story and one for their individual chapter—talk about trust—to guide them. And yet the plot not only hangs together, it dips and whirls and builds to a heart-stopping and very surprising climax. It’s as if everyone was writing with the preceding author sitting beside then or whispering in their ear.

Many of the authors told me they had fun writing their chapters, and it shows. Hey, I ain’t no communist but I think there’s something to be said for being part of a collective. You have to give up some control and play well with others, for once it’s not just about you and your work.

Some of the biggest and best writers in this business are also the most generous and ones who always show up. Just look at the list of contributors and you will know exactly who I am talking about.

The Contributors:

Mark Billingham
Lawrence Block
CJ Box
Ken Bruen
Alafair Burke
Stephen L. Carter
Mary Higgins Clark
Marcia Clark
Max Allan Collins
John Connolly
James Grady
Bryan Gruley
Heather Graham
Charlaine Harris
Val McDermid
SJ Rozan
Jonathan Santlofer
Dana Stabenow
Lisa Unger
Sarah Weinman
Introduction by Lee Child
Afterward by Linda Fairstein

Links to the book, publisher, events, etc.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Anne Perry at Litquake

MWA Norcal is co-hosting an event with Litquake: an Evening with Anne Perry.

Always great to hear Anne Perry speak!

Friday, October 18th
Mystery, History: Anne Perry in conversation with William C. Gordon
$10 in advance, $12 at the door
start time:  7:30pm, October 18, 2013

Location:  Glass Door Gallery
245 Columbus Ave  San Francisco, CA 94133

New York Times bestselling author Anne Perry combines mystery with history to take the reader far far away yet still focus on current issues.  Author of more than 80 mystery novels, primarily set in an historically accurate Victorian England, Anne will discuss the art and craft of writing with San Francisco mystery writer William C. Gordon. Gordon’s 1960s San Francisco noir novels also use dislocation in time to explore universal concepts and memorable characters.


Can't make it? Anne Perry will be at A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair on Saturday, October 19. Not a talk.. but a meet and greet.
6120 LaSalle Ave, Oakland 94611

Cartoon of the Day: Cats

From the marvelous Hilary Price at Rhymes with Orange. She knows of what she writes and draws!

Nicole Kidman to star and produce A.S.A. Harrison's The Silent Wife

Deadline reports that Nicole Kidman will star in and produce an adaptation of The Silent Wife by the late A.S.A. Harrison. It was the first work of fiction by the author, who died a few months before her book became such a literary sensation. The movie deal was made with Harrison’s estate, which was repped by Paradigm on behalf of Samantha Haywood and The Transatlantic Agency.

Mazur/Kaplan partners Paula Mazur and Mitchell Kaplan have teamed with Kidman and Per Saari’s Blossom Films to option the psychological thriller and produce. Mazur/Kaplan will fund development. Book-centric producers Mazur/Kaplan made Nim’s Island and are developing The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Society with StudioCanal for Simon Curtis to direct and are adapting Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, also with StudioCanal, and Jack Thorne and Deborah Moggach writing.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle Video

Inside Foyle's War

Masterpiece PBS!/ Foyle's War: Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle. Great short video.

Bay Area Interactive Literary Map

Check out this cool San Francisco Bay Area Interactive Literary Map: Lots of Mystery Places, Bookstores, and Authors...

Go here for Functionality:

The Man with 59,000 Books in his House

I have a lot of books.. and you probably do, too. But 59,000? Sorry.. no cigar. But, Lawrence L. Thomas found an escape in books, and when he died at 88, his 2500 square foot house in Madison, WI, contained more than 59,000 books.

From the Huffington Post:

"The living room had a fortress of books around where he sat and read -- new books which had arrived but had not yet been shelved," says Mary Winchester, the youngest of Thomas's three children. "Many rooms didn't have furniture; they had books, stacks of books. But it wasn't like you walked into the house and thought, 'Holy crap, he's a hoarder!' The books were very well cared for -- lots of dehumidifiers running all the time -- and extremely organized. He listed the books in spiral notebooks with entries like, 'blue room, northeast wall, northernmost stack, fourth book from the bottom.'"

In accordance with Thomas's wish that a posthumous sale of the books benefit his three children, the collection went on the block in March. Collectors were astounded by its magnitude. The proprietor of New York's Mysterious Bookshop, Otto Penzler, has his own collection of 57,000 crime novels, and he is perhaps the world's leading authority on collecting in that genre. He says, "The Lawrence Thomas collection is the largest I've heard of -- aside from my own obsessive accumulation." 

Read this article about our own Mystery Mike (Mike Bursaw) and this collection. He reached an agreement to purchase all of the crime novels -- 49,000 in total -- and then, in August, he brought in noted crime novel collector Mike Dillman and George Easter, the editor of Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine, to Madison to help him sort through the books. "For three long days we sorted, boxed and counted books, books, books," Easter relates. "The thrill of the hunt to find the gems among the 'dross' was what made this experience all worthwhile. And that was a frequent occurrence."


HT: Jiro Kimura

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Patricia Harrington: R.I.P.

Mystery author Patricia Harrington has passed away. 

She won the Derringer Award (Short Mystery Fiction Society) and had stories published in a variety of ezines and publications. In her traditional mystery series, amateur sleuth Bridget O'Hern is a consultant to nonprofit and governmental agencies.

As the owner/founder of Communication Project Specialists, Patricia Harrington provided grantwriting, training and marketing services to nonprofit organizations. She wrote mysteries that about amateur sleuth, Bridget O'Hern. Bridget, not surprisingly, provides grantwriting, training and marketing services to nonprofit organizations. The fictional Bridget stumbles over dead bodies along the way.

Novels: Death Stalks the Khmer, Death Comes Too Soon

Read an Interview Here

Succulent Typewriter

I also saw this at the Alameda Fleamarket: Rcycle, repurpose!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Scotland Yard at the Flea Market

Saw this at the Alameda Flea Market yesterday. It was in pretty bad shape, so I passed on it, but I wanted to post the photo. In reality, there were no officers from Scotland Yard, but there were some representatives from U.S. Fish and Game. They ended up confiscating items from several vendors and fining them. Not sure the vendors knew they were flouting the law. Some of the items were over 50 years old, but involved endangered species.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Oh to be in Ireland...

Declan Burke just posted the full schedule for Irish Crime Fiction: A Festival at Trinity College. How cool would it be to attend?

Friday, November 22 (free tickets) 7.00pm-8.30pm:
‘A Short Introduction to Crime Fiction: Why We Write It, How We Write It, and Why We Read It’. Panellists: Jane Casey, John Connolly, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, and Eoin McNamee. 

Saturday, November 23 (free tickets for daytime events)
10.00am-11.15am: ‘Historical Crime Fiction’. Panelists: Kevin McCarthy, Eoin McNamee (chair), Stuart Neville, Peter Quinn, and Michael Russell.
11.30am-12.45am: ‘Irish Crime Fiction Abroad’. Panelists: Declan Burke (chair), Jane Casey, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Arlene Hunt.
12.45pm-1.30pm: lunch
1.30-3.30pm: Surprise Film Screening
3.45pm-5pm: ‘Crime Fiction and Contemporary Ireland’. Panelists: Paul Charles, Declan Hughes, Gene Kerrigan, Brian McGilloway (chair), Niamh O’Connor, Louise Phillips.
Closing Event 6pm (doors open 5.30), Exam Hall, Trinity College (€6 tickets) ‘An Evening With Michael Connelly’. John Connolly will be interviewing Michael, who will be signing books, including his newest novel The Gods of Guilt, which will have its Irish launch at this event.

Read more HERE

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Changing Landscape of Publishing: Guest Post by Cathie John

Continuing our Partners in Crime series, today I welcome Cathie John, the writing team of John and Cathie Celestrie.

The Changing Landscape of Publishing: What's Good For Independent Authors Is Also Good for Readers

As some of you may already know, we are the husband and wife team of John and Cathie Celestri blending our writing talents into the voice that is Cathie John.

We discovered early on in our marriage that we both wanted to tell stories, each individually submitting projects with no success: Cathie writing novels and John writing and drawing comic strips. One day, John suggested we combine our talent on a comic strip idea he had for a husband and wife premise. The idea showed promise and received good feedback from several syndicates…but no cigar.

So, we each resumed walking our separate creative paths with no success. Then late in 1990, Cathie was diagnosed with stage 3 of a very aggressive breast cancer. The disappointments of those past rejections became insignificant in light of facing death. But after undergoing six months of aggressive chemotherapy treatment, radical surgery, and another six months of chemotherapy Cathie emerged free and clear of cancer.

John had at little bit of success with a graphic comic novel trilogy, which was distributed in stores by a small regional distributor. But wanting to share once again with Cathie the experience of creating a project, John suggested the idea of Cathie using the cancer experience (along with her other life experiences in the culinary field) as the back story for an amateur detective. This was the genesis of “The Journals of Kate Cavanaugh” series. We have been writing together ever since, each of us using our particular strengths where the other is weaker—we’re energized by our collaborative process.

After completing our first Kate Cavanaugh mystery ADD ONE DEAD CRITIC, we felt we had something that was at least entertaining enough to submit to agents. Dozens of rejections arrived by snail mail.

We firmly believed in the novel’s potential as the start of a series, but what could we do? At that point, John approached the small distribution company handling his graphic novel with the first Kate book. No sooner was it accepted, than Ingram Book Distributor bought out the regional distributor, taking in our newly formed small independent press along with all the other publisher accounts. We were now potentially available in all the regional warehouses. When Amazon launched, ADD ONE DEAD CRITIC automatically showed up on its site.

We were now a small one-author press with a one-book catalog. It was 1997. We thought we were living our dream—putting our money where our mouths were. What we hadn’t counted on was being looked upon as a "vanity press"—writers not good enough for the major publishers and book chains. Except, we actually were a small independent publisher. We handled our own writing, layout, cover art, etc, and used a service to print ADD ONE DEAD CRITIC in trade paperback. We stored our print run of 1,000 books in our basement and filled Ingram’s small purchase orders from our kitchen table.

The first year was an eye-opener as to the existence of literary gatekeepers through whose hoops one had to jump—our novel was not considered a real book. We couldn’t get the Entertainment editor of Cincinnati’s major daily newspaper to review our mystery, but fortunately, our local Barnes & Noble and small independent bookstore stocked copies. Then, a local newspaper gossip columnist mentioned our book as being of local interest (Kate’s mystery takes place in Cincinnati).

Shortly after that came Magna cum Murder in Muncie, Indiana. It was an exciting time! We registered as regular attendants, but when the Director of the convention, Kathryn Kennison, discovered we were new authors, she placed us on three panels! It was a bitter-sweet experience. All the regular attendants treated us as authors, buying copies of ADD ONE DEAD CRITIC and having us sign their books just like “real authors”. Unfortunately, most of the traditional authors gave us a wide berth. That was another eye-opener!

Two weeks later, we became aware of a major turning point while we were visiting New York City and introducing ourselves to the owners of a mystery bookstore in Manhattan. It so happened at that very moment, at that very store, the owner introduced us to Lynn Kaczmarek editor and co-owner of Mystery News. That isn’t the major turning point we’re talking about…it had already happened in Magna cum Murder, but we didn’t know of it. Lynn had bought a copy of our ADD ONE DEAD CRITIC on her own, curious to see if a self published author could “deliver the goods.” From that point, Mystery News reviewed all our Kate Cavanaugh mysteries and Original Sin City crime fiction novels, giving them each a better review than the previous one. (The inspiration for our Original Sin City stories came while researching Northern Kentucky history for our third Journals of Kate Cavanaugh mystery. In that novel, Kate discovers the existence of a long lost uncle who was intimately involved with the illegal casinos in Newport, KY back in the 1940s and 1950s.)

From 1998 to 2003, we developed as authors and were distributed through both Ingram and Baker & Taylor. Our novels were stocked in brick and mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble, many independent mystery bookstores, and on Amazon. Based on this, we were accepted in 1998 as full Active members in Mystery Writers of America. In 2000, we were interviewed by Publishers Weekly magazine for a special section on mystery publishers, including self-publishing authors. Our novels received great reviews in the Chicago Tribune, Cincinnati Enquirer, Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Library Journal, and all the mystery review publications. We wrote the initial “Independent Press” column for Mystery Scene Magazine. Our crime fiction novel Little Mexico was a finalist for the Barry Award in 2001 as Best Paperback Original. We didn’t have a lot of money to buy our way into the big box stores—publishers spent tens of thousands of dollars to get placement in strategy areas of the chain stores—but word of mouth was slowly building our audience.

Then came the financial crisis and the collapse and consolidation of many regional distributors in 2001 to 2003. Major distributors raised the performance bar for small independent presses, cutting them out of distribution channels because they didn't have at least 10 books in their catalogs. All three of our distributors relegated us to a small press ghetto, changing our financial terms, replacing them with terrible ones. We could not financially sustain ourselves with those terms and had to shut down. We tried submitting to literary agents, but none cared for our work even though we had readers and reviewers who wanted more of the stories we wrote and published. So, we left writing and moved on to other pursuits.

One-author independent presses weren’t the only ones affected by the changes going on in the publishing landscape. Readers were also affected by the major publishers. Many mid-list authors who had upwards of 20-30,000 loyal readers were dropped (and their backlist of novels were allowed to go out of print) because they didn't fit into an industry-wide corporate mindset that placed a premium on Blockbusters—they didn't have enough readers.

These authors were deemed to be “not worthy” by the gatekeepers in the major publishing houses. Those gatekeepers were not thinking of you the reader—even though you believed those authors were worthy and would spend your hard earned money on their books. Think YOU were frustrated? Imagine how those writers felt! They were more than ready to continue writing stories for you to read, but the business of publishing paper bound novels placed huge roadblocks between you and them.

However, the advent of the eBook has suddenly changed the landscape of publishing! There is now a way for authors and readers to connect directly!

Dropped authors can write new stories for their fans and issue eBooks to fill in their backlist. Now "Indie" writers have the chance to show you what they can offer that is new, that doesn't have to fit into some corporate preconceived notion of what YOU might like.

That is what we're ready to do, and so we are re-launching our publishing efforts as eBooks. We are writing new novels and issuing our five novel back list over the next year, starting with our Barry Award nominated LITTLE MEXICO and its sequel IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER. Both are now available on Amazon as eBooks.

We are also starting up a blog of our own, focusing on the nuts and bolts of writing historical crime fiction. We call it "Original Sin City"

It's amazing how much the publishing landscape has changed. It appears to be a really positive environment for us now—no more "vanity press" taint to our efforts. Self publishing authors are now appearing on the New York Times Best Sellers lists—this was an impossibility when we started!

These are exciting times. Best of all, there is no expiration to the shelf life of eBooks—time for word of mouth to grow an audience. You, the reader, are the new gatekeeper.