25 April 2018

Trouble (Ben Affleck's "The Town")

David Edgerley Gates


In between his two Dennis Lehane adapations, Ben Affleck made a picture called The Town, which feels like a Lehane story, but it's based on a book by Chuck Hogan, yet another Boston guy.

I admit I've never been a big Ben Affleck fan. I liked him in support, Good Will Hunting, Shakespeare in Love, didn't like him in leads, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor. (Reindeer Games is Frankenheimer's last feature, so I'd overlook Troy Donahue if he were in it.) But then he surprised me as a director, with Gone Baby Gone. Very solid picture. Lehane was well served the first two times around, with Mystic River and Gone Baby. He wasn't third time lucky: Live by Night went flat. I think Ben Affleck miscast his own film. He wears the clothes beautifully, the drape's to die for, but his character's an empty suit. And after Brendan Gleeson exits the first act, the pacing limps to the finish line in cinderblock shoes.


So, that being said, I didn't have the highest expectations going in, but The Town is a knock-out. It begins with a bank job in Harvard Square, which is my old stomping ground (Ben Affleck was raised in Cambridge), and that got it on my good side. Speaking as a local boy, too, there's an interesting visual consistency in the movie, not strictly necessary, but reassuring - they'll use an establishing aerial shot, and then drop into the neighborhood, and they match. This isn't always the case, and it's obvious that Ben the Director, as distinct from Ben the Actor, is going the extra distance. Fenway Park from a chopper, Fenway Park backstage, under the stands. Bunker Hill Monument? On the ground, the streets around Monument Square. From above, the Old North Church. The chase after the armored car robbery is in the North End. They don't fake it. They don't fake it when they could, when most people wouldn't know the difference between Coolidge Corner and Savin Hill. It shows a genuine appreciation for the right landscape.



There's a vocal landscape they get right, as well, the cadences. And easy to get wrong. It's not just Ben Affleck, who slides familiarly into the voice, but Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively, not a Valley Girl locution between them. Not that she gets a lot to do, but she does a lot with what she gets. Renner seems to do even less, with more. It's not the accent, quite, as much as it is usage and speech patterns, the mouth feel of the language. He's got the St. Vitus Dance, ants in his pants, a delivery that's one step behind, as if he's puzzling out his own train of thought. He stretches his hesitations and clips his words short, the silences are eloquent and threatening.



Speaking of Jeremy Renner, the two serious relationships in the picture are between Renner's Gem and Affleck's Doug, and between Doug and Rebecca Hall's Claire. Gem is a silent partner in Doug and Claire's relationship, besides, not that she knows about it, because if there's the slightest chance of Claire ratting out their crew, Gem will cap her without a second thought.



Which brings us to what Jon Hamm's FBI guy calls, "Your fuckin' Irish omerta." The Town is a heist picture, and the town in question isn't Boston at large, but Boston in small, specifically Bunker Hill, Charlestown. It's a movie about clannishness, about class loyalties, about family in the larger sense, of immersion, of race memory. It's specific about place, and place experienced as density. A sudden phrase beings it back, a sharp smell, a retinal afterimage. The place of heart's desiring. The fact that these guys are a criminal family, a crew, a marriage of convenience, misses the point. This is the air they breathe. This is what they know. This isn't something you can change out of, like a pair of pants.

The robberies themselves are set pieces, kinetic and tense, adrenaline and endorphins, wound up tight. The personal scenes have a dark energy, what's said, what's held back, a dangerous edge. Here's a for instance.
Doug goes to see Gem. "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. We're gonna hurt some people."
Gem waits a beat, looks up. "Whose car we gonna take?"

Ray LaMontagne's Jolene plays over the final credits. It's a killer.
  Held you in my arms one time
  Lost you just the same

24 April 2018

When an Amateur Writes a Police Procedural

by Barb Goffman

I'm not a sheriff, and I've never played one on TV. So when it came to writing mystery short stories, for a long time I avoided writing police procedurals. There were too many ways I could screw things up. Too many important details I'd need to research, and more important, things I might not even realize I was getting wrong. And that's still the case today.

But a few years ago, I heard a fictional sheriff talking to me in my head. So, with misgivings, I started writing her story. To try to ensure I didn't make any mistakes, I imposed some rules on myself. The most important: the story had to be solved quickly through interviews and observation, not using blood work or DNA or other modern investigative methods with which I could easily make mistakes. In this way, my sheriff would operate kind of like an amateur sleuth, relying on her wits, but with the benefit of knowledge the sheriff would have and the power of her badge to induce folks to speak with her and to get warrants when needed.

This approach worked well and resulted in my first story about Sheriff Ellen Wescott. "Suffer the Little Children" was published in 2013 in my collection, Don't Get Mad, Get Even. I've now brought Sheriff Wescott back for a second case in "Till Murder Do Us Part," which was recently published by Wildside Press in the new anthology Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies.

In this new story, a man who runs a business putting on weddings in a converted barn on his farm is murdered. The body is discovered on a Sunday morning. The day is important. I didn't want to have to deal with the sheriff getting phone records and other CSI-type evidence to help solve the case. While a judge's warrant could be secured on the weekend, I figured it would be harder to get a phone company to act quickly on a Sunday. I also wanted all the characters I needed to be believably and easily available. On a weekday, some of them would be at work, but on a Sunday, it would be much easier for them to gather.

So my story is set on a Sunday, and my sheriff and her deputy--through interviews and investigation of items found at the crime scene--try to piece together what happened. That's the basics. I don't want to reveal any more for fear I'll give away too much, but I will address one point: Does this tale sound a little dry to you? It does to me, just explaining it. I don't like dry stories. I like to introduce pathos or fun (maybe both) into my stories to make the reader want to turn the pages. So it helps that law enforcement officers often enjoy black humor, as I do.

That's where the cows come in. You see, every story in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies involves crime and critters. We have several stories involving dogs. They were the most popular animal in the submitted stories and in those accepted. But we also have animal diversity. We have stories with crows, cows, crickets, and cats; rabbits, ferrets, an octopus, and rats. And fish. Mustn’t forget the fish. My story is the one with the cows.

As I said above, "Till Murder Do Us Part" involves murder in farm country. It also takes place during the worst heat wave since the state began keeping records. What happens when it's really hot and there are cows around? Yep, they explode. Or they can. But don't worry. I don't just use the cows for black humor. They play a role in the plot. I won't say more because I don't want to give things away, but I will add with delight that New York Times bestselling author Chris Grabenstein--who kindly wrote the introduction to the book--called my story "extremely clever," and I think it's because of how I used the cows.

To read my new story, and the twelve other great stories in the book, pick up a copy of Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies. It's available in trade paperback or e-format directly from the publisher by clicking here or through Amazon or independent bookstores.

If you'll be at the Malice Domestic mystery convention later this week, the book will be available in the book room. In fact, most of the authors with stories in the book will be at the Wildside Press table in the convention's book room at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday to sign books. And if you'll be in the Washington, DC, area on Sunday, May 20th, please come to our launch party from 2 - 4 p.m. at the Central Library in Arlington, Virginia. But you don't have to wait until then to get some goodies. If you see me at Malice, ask me about my cow tails. I might just have some candy on hand for you.

And speaking of Malice Domestic, let me get in one last plug for the five short stories nominated for this year's Agatha Award. I'm honored to have my story "Whose Wine Is It Anyway?" from the anthology 50 Shades of Cabernet up for the award. You can read it here. The other finalists include my friend and fellow SleuthSayer Art Taylor, who is always stiff competition, and three other authors I'm proud to call my friends: Gretchen Archer, Debra H. Goldstein, and Gigi Pandian. You can read all their nominated stories here through the Malice Domestic website. Just scroll down to their story titles. Each one is a link. You may not be able to get a lot of reading done before the voting deadline this Saturday, but I hope you can read all the short stories.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you writers and readers at the convention, which starts in just two days. Malice or bust! But in the meanwhile, getting back to police procedurals, I'd love to hear about your favorite authors writing police procedurals today, especially ones who don't have law-enforcement background but still get the details right. Please share in the comments.

23 April 2018

Living on the Wild Side:
Or, How to Create a Believable Villain

I met Charles Salzberg last October when we were on a panel at Bouchercon in Toronto.

Charles is the author of the Shamus nominated Swann's Last Song, as well as Swann Dives In, Swann's Lake of Despair and Swann's Way Out. His Devil in the Hole, was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. His novella, "Twist of Fate," is included in Triple Shot, a collection of three crime novellas, and his novel, Second Story Man, was published in March by Down and Out Books. He teaches writing for the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member and he is on the board of MWA-NY. He also has my undying envy because he co-wrote Soupy Sez: My Zany Life and Times, the memoir of the late great Soupy Sales.

Usually when I invite a guest to write for us I give the following example: "Don't write 'Buy my wonderful book.' Write 'How do you make a convincing villain? In my new book…'" When I read the terrific piece below I was afraid Charles had taken my example as a command, but he assured me it was what he wanted to write about anyway.

— Robert Lopresti

by Charles Salzberg

I’ve spent most of my life trying to stay out of trouble. As a kid, I left that to my brother, who spent a good part of his life in the principal’s office. Periodically, my mother would be called into school and presented with a list of my brother’s wrongdoings. Nothing serious, you understand. Just enough to get under the teacher’s skin.

Me, I coasted through under the radar. I was the good one. The one who never got into trouble. The one who spent his time trying to please adults. Obeying the all the rules. Speaking only when spoken to. Keeping my nose clean. Yeah, that was me.

On the social scene, I was a dud. It was the “bad boys” who got the attention, especially from the girls. The only thing that prevented me from disappearing completely into the woodwork was that I was good at sports.

I always wondered what it would be like to be one of the bad boys. You know the type. James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. Marlon Brando in The Wild One, who when asked, “What are you rebelling against,” answered, “What’ve you got?” Paul Newman in Hud. Sean Penn in just about anything.

Trouble was, I didn’t think I’d ever find out, because that obey the rules thing seemed to be branded into my DNA. I couldn’t be bad, even if I wanted to.

But, as it turns out, I was wrong. I can be bad. All I need is someone else’s name and a blank sheet of paper.

That’s probably why I take so much glee in writing villains. But anyone who’s tried, knows it isn’t easy. What I mean is, anyone can write a villain, but to write a good one, one that isn’t the stereotypical bad actor, like Hannibal Lector, for instance, one that jumps off the page and haunts your dreams, takes skill.

You’d think it would be difficult for someone who was the “good boy,” all his life. But it’s not. In fact, it comes surprisingly easy and, I should be ashamed to say this but I’m not, it’s fun.

Writing villains isn’t easy. A true villain isn’t just someone who does bad stuff. A true villain, one that stays with the reader, is a complex character and the evil he or she does emanates directly from that character. I’m not talking about the “I’m gonna blow up the world” guy who hates everyone. Or the guy who cheats and steals for personal gain. Or the woman who betrays every man she comes in contact with.

Look, no one gets up in the morning, stretches his or her arms, rubs his or her chin, and says, “You know what? I think I’m going to be a badass today. I’m going to step all over anyone who gets in my way.”

That’s not a villain, that’s a stereotype.

A true villain, or at least a believable villain, thinks he or she is justified in whatever he or she does. It’s more about self-interest, I think. Greed. Selfishness. A blatant disregard for the feelings (and rights) of others because, you’re more important than everyone else.

I like to think I write complex and flawed characters. Probably the baddest character I ever wrote is Francis Hoyt, the master thief of Second Story Man. He’s brilliant, manipulative, athletic, arrogant, and mean. He uses people, then tosses them aside. But he’s got a history and it’s that history that helps explain who he is and why he does what he does. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t justify what he does. It explains it. You can tell from the first line of the novel when he utters, “Where’s my fucking money?” Right away, you peg him as a bad guy. He doesn’t say, “You know, you may have forgotten about that money you owe me, and I could sure use it now.” Nope. He says, “Where’s my fucking money?” There’s a threat implied in those four words and from those four words you know he’s not kidding around.

The other two characters in the book, Charlie Floyd and Manny Perez, are far from perfect, but they’re certainly not villains. They, too, are complex human beings capable of doing wrong. But Francis Hoyt, well, he’s in a whole other league. I’m proud of Francis Hoyt and I loved writing him and hearing him speak. But I certainly wouldn’t want to meet him.

And so, finally, after all these years, I’ve managed to be the “bad boy,” even if it is only on the page.

22 April 2018

Kranky Kalls
Telemarketing Tales 2

by Leigh Lundin

Last week, Elizabeth wrote about a New Jersey telemarketer phoning Hawaii at 3am to sell siding. Her comment presaged my own brush with wall-to-wall telemarketers.

As mentioned previously, I worked nights but was responsible for answering a business tech support line any time of day. I had little patience or mercy for phone solicitors. When the calls came, the games began. A handful of Disney cast members suggested I write up the dialogues.

Kustom Kottage Kolouration and Kraftmanship

With a stucco house, siding should mean nothing to me, but when awakened, surprising opinions surfaced.
Judy Hopps © Zootopia
Zootopia • Judy Hopps © Disney
“Good morning, sir. Kustom Kraft would like to tell you about our Salubrious Siding products, each government approved by HUD, FHA, FTC, FAA, and PTA. Today only, we can make available our entire product line at 63% savings for fine customers like yourself. How does that sound to you, sir?”

“Timely, yes, timely. I’m grateful you called. I’ve been thinking about siding after a visit to the Southwest.”

“Thousands of happy customers from the American Southwest love our Salubrious Siding. All our products use patented, copyrighted, trademarked, UL-underwritten, GSA-approved Elastomeric©™ technology. We can provide any kind of siding, any kind at all.”

“That’s great news. I want cowhide.”

“Wuh? Did you say cowhide?”

“Of course. In Arizona and New Mexico, you see all these dwellings wrapped with hides. One quonset building sticks in my mind with beautiful tan and white cowhide. I made up my mind I wanted that look.”

“But sir, cowhide?”

“It has to be the right color combination, kind of a golden tan, not too brown and certainly not black. My wife will want to see samples. Is this afternoon suitable?”

“But sir, I don’t think we can purchase cow side hiding… I mean cow hide siding.”

“That’s a brilliant play on words, but let’s get this moving. When can you meet?”

“Sir, I’m not certain…”

“Am I sensing hesitation? If a customer gives you the business, you shouldn’t judge them.”

“No, no, but…”

“You can’t back out now. You claimed your company has extensive coverage in the Southwest, so you can obtain hide siding much easier than I can.”

“I… I’m gonna have to call you back.”

“I suppose if you must. Are we still on for this afternoon when my wife returns?”

“No, no sir. I have to run this past management.”

“I appreciate it. If you can sell me so easily, I bet you’ll impress your managers. You got my number, right? Hello?”
According to the YouMail Robocall Index, Americans receive in excess of 100-million unwelcome solicitation phone calls a week. This number is verifiably close to the FTC estimate.

Krafty Katalogue Kallers

Officer Judy Hopps © Disney Zootopia
Madness runs in the family. My brother Glen contributed the following examples.
“Hello Glen. How are you today?”

“With whom am I speaking?”

“I’m with your friends at Krafty Kunning Katalog Kompany and my name’s Patty.”

“Hello, Patty. How may I help you?”

“I’m calling to tell you about our latest promotion, an offer only our best customers can take advantage of.”

“Tremendous, Patty. What is your surname?”

“My… er, what?”

“Your last name.”

“I”m not sure I’m supposed to give that out.”

“Patty, you know my name and as you said, we’re all friends.”

“Well… okay, it’s Peón, Patty Peón.”

“Thank you, Miss Peón. What is your address?”

“Our company is located at…”

“No, no, your home address. You have mine, don’t you? You said we’re friends.”

“Er, yes, but I’m not allowed to give out my address.”

“Okay, what is your bank card number? That’s sixteen digits, plus the expiration date and the 3-digit code on the back.”

“What do you want that for?”

“You know my financial details, it’s only fair I know yours, seeing how we’re such good pals. Companies call it a reciprocal relationship. What is your home phone number?”

“Sir, I’m not giving that out. People I don’t know might harass me.”

“Irony isn’t one of your strong suites, huh? Patty, we’re such close friends, don’t let something like this spoil our relationship.”

“Sir, I’m not giving out personal information.”

“Sounds like sensible advice.”

*click*
Telemarketers hide behind ‘spoofed’ numbers, often appearing to originate in your area, but deriving from obscure corners around the globe.

Klogged Kolon Kleanser
Officer Judy Hopps © Disney Zootopia
“Sir, this is a courtesy call to inform you about the advantages of Kustom Kleanse Kolon deKlogger, the latest, space-age product to relieve those embarrassing symptoms of…”

(Glen with bored, condescending monotone) “Your billing info?”

“Er, that would be Burp-o-Lex Corp.”

“B-u-r-…”

“As I was saying, Super Kolon Kleanse brings you the latest innovation scientifically formulated…”

“-o-l-e-x, right? Your account number?”

“Er, what do you mean?”

(impatiently) “Your account number or a credit card number will do.”

“What? Why?”

“For billing $3.95 per minute or fraction thereof. The first four digits please?”

“I thought this was a private number?”

“Why would you think that? Anyway, we’re two minutes and nineteen seconds into the call. I’ll also need the credit card’s expiration date and CSV.”

“I don’t understand. What have I reached?”

“Sylvia Slattern’s Slinky Sex Salon, We do phone sex right. If you prefer Rod’s Leather and Chains…”

“You’re not actually billing me, are you?”

“Of course, $3.95 a minute. Remember, Slinky Sylvia Slattern puts the oral in immoral. Now if gay is your way…”

“I’m not gay.”

“Don’t feel embarrassed, Queer Vibrations is only $3.95 a minute. Your credit card number, please?”

“I’m not gay and I’m not paying for phone sex.”

“Sir, billing started the moment you phoned. Remember, you called us, we didn’t call you. In the absence of a credit card, we shall directly bill your phone number.”

*click*
What are your favorites?

Kold Krafty Kallers will return.

21 April 2018

Mean Girls


by John M. Floyd



A few weeks ago I posted a column about female protagonists ("Let's Hear It for Heroines"), and in putting together my list of those I was a little surprised at how few female heroes have been featured in novels and movies. The same thing goes for female villains, but even more so--Hollywood doesn't seem fond of casting a woman as the bad guy. But I'm fond of those in the following list. I've ranked these evil folks backward, by the way, from least creepy (#25) to most creepy (#1). My opinion only.

NOTE: Evil, in this case, doesn't necessarily mean criminal. It means those who scared me the most. How many of these do you remember?


25. Eleanor Shaw (Angela Lansbury) -- The Manchurian Candidate

24. Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) -- Body Heat

23. Bellatrix Lastrange (Helena Bonham Carter) -- Harry Potter

22. Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) -- Snow White and the Huntsman

21. Winifred Sanderson (Bette Midler) -- Hocus Pocus

20. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) -- Maleficent

19. Mrs. Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) -- Friday the 13th

18. The White Witch (Tilda Swinton) -- The Chronicles of Narnia

17. Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) -- Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

16. Santanico Pandemonium (Salma Hayek) -- From Dusk to Dawn

15. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) -- Sunset Boulevard

14. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) -- The Wizard of Oz

13. Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) -- Gone Girl

12. Evelyn Draper (Jessica Walter) -- Play Misty for Me

11. Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) -- Monster

10. Ellie Driver (Darryl Hannah) -- Kill Bill

9.   Mallory Knox (Juliette Lewis) -- Natural Born Killers

8.   Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) -- Rebecca

7.   Catherine Trammel (Sharon Stone) -- Basic Instinct

6.   Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) -- Mommie Dearest

5.   May Day (Grace Jones) -- A View to a Kill

4.   Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) -- From Russia With Love

3.   Alex Forrest (Glenn Close) -- Fatal Attraction

2.   Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates) -- Misery

1.   Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) -- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


Following up on that, here are ten female antagonists who weren't all that scary to me--but I just didn't like 'em. At all. I've ranked these from the least unlikable (#10) to the most unlikable (#1):


10. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) -- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

9.  The Warden (Sigourney Weaver) -- Holes

8.  Miss Hannigan (Carol Burnett) -- Annie

7.  Mama Fratelli (Anne Ramsey) -- The Goonies

6.  Hilly Holbrook (Bryce Dallas Howard) -- The Help

5.  Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) -- The Graduate

4.  Regina George (Rachel McAdams) -- Mean Girls

3.  Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) -- Working Girl

2.  Cinderella's stepmother (Cate Blanchett)--Cinderella

1.  Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) -- The Devil Wears Prada



These lists don't include, of course, bad girls who are likeable--Bonnie Parker (Faye Dunaway), Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis), Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon), etc. But audiences are expected to like them: they're protagonists, not antagonists.

I also left out good/bad shapeshifters like Regan McNeil (The Exorcist) and Carrie White (Carrie), villains from TV series--Cercei Lannister (Game of Thrones), Sister Mary Eunice (American Horror Story), and a bunch of meanies from Buffy the Vampire Slayer--and animated female villains like Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmatians) and Ursula the Sea Witch (The Little Mermaid). And so on and so on.

As usual, I've included only characters from movies I've actually seen, which leaves out a lot of candidates. Who are some of your favorite female movie villains? Also (he asked, holding up a gender-equality sign), have you featured women as villains in your own writing?

I have. And it's fun . . .



20 April 2018

Quotes from writers

by
O'Neil De Noux

Quotes about writing inspire me, always have. I'm sure most of my fellow writers are familiar with these quotes but some many not and many readers may not. So here goes.

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand." George Orwell

"A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." J.R.R. Tolkien

"The art of the novelist is not unrelated to the illness of multiple personality disorder. It's a much milder form. But the better the book, the nearer the padded cell you are." David Mitchell

"Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations." Ray Bradbury


"You fail only if you stop writing." Ray Bradbury

"All my characters write the book. I don't write the book." Ray Bradbury

"You will have to write and put away or burn a lot of material before you are comfortable in this medium. You might as well start now and get the necessary work done. For I believe that eventually quantity will make for quality." Ray Bradbury

"It is the function of art to renew our perception. What we are familiar with we cease to see. The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, if by magic, we see a new meaning in it. Anais Nin


"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Anais Nin

"Comedy is merely tragedy which has gone wrong and tragedy is merely comedy which has gone wrong." Peter Ustinov

"Don't forget - no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell." Charles de Lint
Elmore Leonard

"When I write a book I'm the only person I have to please." Elmore Leonard

"Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Writers aren't people exactly. Or, if they're any good. they're a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person." F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Action is character." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one." F. Scott Fitzgerald

"I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." Gustave Flaubert

"Do you realize that all great literature is all about what a bummer it is to be a human being? Isn't it such a relief to have somebody say that?" Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"Start as close to the end as possible." Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

"If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor." Edgar Rice Burroughs.

"You must understand that when you are writing a novel you are not making anything up. It's all there and you just have to find it." Thomas Harris

Lillian Hellman

"Nothing your write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as your first hoped." Lillian Hellman

"However great a man's talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once." Jean Jacques Rousseau

"Make them laugh. Make them cry. Make them wait." Charles Dickens

"My aim in constructing sentences is to make the sentence utterly easy to understand, writing what I call transparent prose. I've failed dreadfully if you have to read a sentence twice to figure out what I meant." Ken Follett

Ken Follett

"Enchanting the reader. Casting a spell. That's my main aim." Ken Follett

"A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave." Oscar Wilde

"You don't always have to take the editor's advice. Sometimes the way you see it is the way it should be." Stephen King

"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." Robert Frost

"One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you're maybe a little bit ashamed of your short words." Stephen King

"The adverb is not your friend." Stephen King

"Write what you like; there is no other rule." O. Henry

Ursula K. LeGuin

"We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art." Ursula K. Le Guin

"A writer never needs a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing." Eugene Ionesco

"To say a writer's hold on reality is tenuous is an understatement - it's like saying the TITANIC had a rough crossing. Writers build the own realities, move into them and occasionally send letters home. The only difference between a writer and a crazy person is that a writer gets paid." David Gerrold

A. S. Byatt

"Think of this - that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other." Dame Antonia Susan Duffy, known as A.S. Byatt, English novelist and poet.

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about the writer." G.K. Chesterton.

"I own my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite." G.K. Chesterton

"There is no idea so brilliant or original that a sufficiently-untalented writer can't screw it up." Raymond E. Feist

"What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers." Logan Pearsall Smith

"The historian records, but the novelist creates." E.M. Forster

"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write." Sinclair Lewis

"It's story that counts, its heart, its feeling, its reality, its capacity of the written word to move you." Rod Serling.

Rod Serling

"If writing wasn't hard, everyone would be a writer." Rod Serling

"Forget narrative, backstory, characterization, exposition, all of that. Just make the audience want to know what happens next." David Mamet

"When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature." Ernest Hemingway

"I'm a professional liar folks. I write fiction for a living. I make up this weird crap and people pay me for it." Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison
"To say more is to say less." Harlan Ellison

"The only thing worth writing about is people. People. Human beings. Men and women whose individuality must be created, line by line, insight by insight. If you do not do it, the story is a failure." Harlan Ellison

"The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer." Harlan Ellison

"It must be realistic in character, setting and atmosphere. It must be about real people in a real world." Raymond Chandler

"It must be credibly motivated, both as to the original situation and the denouement." Raymond Chandler

"It must have a sound story value apart from the mystery element: i.e. the investigation itself must be an adventure worth reading." Raymond Chandler

"Know your characters well and the story will write itself." William Faulkner

"Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency ... to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the ODE ON A GRECIAN URN is worth any number of old ladies." William Faulkner

"What would I do if I knew I had only had six months to live? Type faster." Isaac Asimov

"A writer is a world trapped in a person." Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo

Let's end with Victor Hugo. He had requested a pauper's funeral. There was no way the French would not honor their literary hero. No building in Paris was large enough for his wake. His coffin lay in state beneath the Arc de Triomphe and more than two million people joined his funeral procession from the Arc de Triomphe to the Pantheon. TWO MILLION. Hugo shares a crypt with Alexandre Dumas and Emile Zola. Nearly every large town in Franch has a street named for him. Vive le France.

Wake of Victor Hugo at the Arc de Triomphe

Funeral procession of Victor Hugo


19 April 2018

And How Was YOUR Spring Break?

by Brian Thornton

Saturday


First day of Spring Break! Drive a couple of hours to a small college town where my wife has booked a couple of days at a spa (birthday weekend for me. Thanks, honey!), and planned a weekend full of writing-related activities. Check-in time is 3 PM, so we head downtown to hit one of the local indie record stores.

I have a lot of music. Most of it is digital these days, but I've got a turntable again, and I've been having a lot of fun building up a vinyl collection. I came of age as cassettes were beginning to eclipse vinyl, followed closely on their heels by compact disks. So I had some vinyl as a teenager. Not much, mostly Elvis and the Eagles, and The Village People's "classic" Go West LP.

I like to think that the vinyl collection I'm building these days is more worthwhile and more eclectic, reflecting my expanded tastes. I'm willing to take chances on new music as long as it promises to be interesting, and with streaming services, I can "try before I buy."

(Yes, I still believe in buying music. I want to get money into the hands of people who make stuff I like so they'll be inclined to continue to make it. Capitalist Brian, that's me.)

Anyway, like I said, this is a college town, so of course both the staff and the clientele at this place are unironically ironic in that "I'm too young to realize that you see right through my false front, and understand more than I can know how HARD I'm trying to look like I'm not trying at all."

The posturing is epic.

They have a lousy selection of jazz LPs and their staff don't know jack about what they do have. That in and of itself is no big deal, and certainly no sin. What's both funny and a little bit sad about the experience is watching one of their sales clerks tie himself into knots trying to explain that they don't have any more by that particular band when I show him a certain album and ask about it.

"Magic City," he says, nodding sagely. I imagine him visibly resisting the urge to touch the vaulting tips of the handlebar mustache which arcs in twin points above the glorious mess of his imam's beard. "GREAT group. Don't think we have anything else by them."

"You dig Magic City?" I say.

This time he actually touches the end of one of his mustaches. "Yeah," he says. "I'm hip to them."

The college-age girl he'd been in converse with when I'd walked up to the register looks from him to me and back to him, admiration writ large across the expanse of her all-too-credulous face. "Niko," she says, her voice filled with wonder. "I had no idea you liked anything but hip-hop."

Is it just my imagination, or does he stand just a bit taller? "Yep," he says. "I'm hip to jazz."

"This one, Sun Ra is really good," I say. "But they have so many great ones!"

The Magic City is an album by a jazz keyboardist and bandleader known as Sun Ra. Not the other way round.

"Have you heard Filles de Kilimanjaro? Man, the guitar on that one is insane!"

"My sister has it," he says. "I've heard it but don't know it all that well. Love the guitar on it, though, yeah."

There are no guitars featured on Filles de Kilimanjaro. And it's by legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis, not "Magic City."

"What do you think of their album Mingus?" I say. "Or Pithecanthropus Erectus?"

He touches his mustache again, and glances at the girl, who has lost interest in our conversation. She's leafing through a rack of posters, obviously waiting for him to finish with me. "I like Mingus," he says. "Don't know the other one."

Of course he doesn't.

At some point it just stops being funny
I grin at him, tell him it's a shame they don't have more of Magic City's stuff in stock. He says something about ordering it, but I wave that off, and content myself with picking up several Springsteen albums, a good (and cheap!) copy of Jackson Browne's Running on Empty, an equally cheap copy of Pablo Cruise's Find Your Place in the Sun (this one I'm picking up as a gift for a music teacher friend of mine who's just retired. Can't wait to see the look on his face when I give it to him.), some classical music for my wife, and a Winnie the Pooh album for my son (his first vinyl album!).

I also pick up a not cheap but interesting copy of Kossoff, Kirke, Tetsu & Rabbit, a one-off by a couple of refugees from Free (remember "All Right Now" and "Fire and Water"?) a Japanese bassist and the guy who will go on to build a career as the keyboardist for The Who. Kossoff's guitar work on it alone is worth giving it a listen. They really needed an actual singer, though!



Then things got interesting.

We had lunch at an eclectic hamburger place across the street (the "hamburger salad" I ordered tasted funny), then we headed in the direction of the spa. It still wasn't check-in time yet, so we wound up down the road from it, at a local bookstore well known in indie circles.

We no sooner got through the front door than something began to seriously disagree with me. (Hint: it was the salad!).

I spent nearly the entirety of our visit in the bathroom. It wasn't that long, it's just that getting dragged around a multi-storied bookstore by an overstimulated five year-old can wear a body out. Just ask my wife! (To her credit, she'd been fighting a cold, but didn't want to cancel our trip, because it was my birthday, and she knew I'd been looking forward to it. Yet another reason why I love her.). I did manage to find a couple of books that are already serving as research sources for one of my fiction series, so that was some consolation.

I bought them, and then we headed to check in to the spa.

When we got to the place, it didn't look much like its pictures on the site where my wife had booked it. And it took forever to find parking. Then, as we're making the dash between our car and the hotel's front door, dragging rolling suitcases and juggling a couple of bags filled with vinyl and books, all in what had suddenly become a driving windstorm, complete with sheets of rain.

The sack with the books I'd just bought split apart halfway there, dumping its contents on the sidewalk. My wife (God love her!) chased the sales slip out into traffic (that wind again!), while I kept our five year-old from chasing it, and picked up my luckily not-too soaked books.

Once we got into our hotel room, my son began to sneeze. Turned out he'd either caught my wife's cold, or maybe he'd picked it up and given it to her. the details are sketchy. (Somehow I managed to avoid catching it! Thank goodness for small miracles, eh?).

Our hotel room had a wonderful view of a sliver of Puget Sound and a massive expanse of mid-70s vintage apartment building across the street. There was also an amazing shower/bath (you know, spa.), and a bed as hard as a hand-carved beechwood door.

We dropped our stuff and went out to a local pub for dinner. Our son didn't eat a thing he'd ordered. My wife liked her meal, and I had a hamburger so rare it could it have doubled for the Hope Diamond.

At that point I began to wonder about cutting losses. Moreso as we were driving through what was now a deluge to get back to our hotel room. (Still no parking!).

My wife had booked a massage for me, and that lived up to its billing! Great massage! (Thanks again, honey!).

When I got back to the room my wife was crashed out on the bed (at this point I'd say the cold was winning!) and our son was watching TV. It took a while to get him to sleep, but by about midnight, I'd managed it.

As it turned out, there were railroad tracks between this spa and the portion of Puget Sound it fronted on. We put this together after noticing the earplugs left next to the alarm clock in our room. Long after. Around 2 AM, in fact. And then again, around 4 AM.

Sunday

Up at 8. Got ready and went to the hotel restaurant in search of breakfast. We didn't have a reservation. (We didn't know we needed one). Got the high hand. This place clearly catered to the North Face and Brie crowd.

So we made the executive decision to cut our losses at this point, and head for home. (We were scheduled to stay through Monday morning).

Driving back along I-5 it rained so hard I swear I saw Noah working on his ark in a field just north of one of the outlet malls.

Got home, had a quiet dinner, played with our kid, and went to bed early. Our bed was (and continues to be) a slice a heaven.

Monday

Our son woke us at 6:30 having sneezed so hard he had a ball of snot dripping from his nose. I groggily told him to just go to the bathroom and get some toilet paper and blow it. We'd been working on that (he's five, after all).

Turns out he used half a roll or so and tried to flush it. And then tried again. And again. And yet again.

It was about that point when the sound of the toilet tank filling for another plunge brought me fully awake.

Our son had flooded our upstairs bathroom.

It leaked all the way down into our kitchen.

Fun with contractors and insurance claims ensued.

Tuesday

I had lunch with a guy from my critique group. We had a great time.

Then I went to get gas, turned too tight angling in next to the tank, and scraped the car door on one of those posts designed to protect gas pumps from guys like me.

More fun with insurance ensued.

(Luckily, my wife is a very understanding woman! Thanks honey!)

Took my son for two days at Grandma's.

Wednesday

Minor surgery (outpatient). Hurt like crazy once the local wore off.

More fun with insurance following up on both claims while recuperating (mostly on hold).

Thursday

More fun with insurance while trying to not move too quickly (still recuperating).

Picked up my son from two days at Grandma's.

Friday

Worked with my badass ranger brother-in-law on a military espionage PTSD thriller we've been plotting out. Then worked on the anthology I'm editing.

Played with my son (still not moving too fast, though.).

The Weekend

Wife and son both recovered from their colds. These two days were the best parts of my spring break.

At least it ended on a high note.

And once again, thanks honey!

See you in two weeks!

18 April 2018

Five Red Herrings 9

by Robert Lopresti

1. Little gun, big noise.  This weekend saw the announcement of the finalists for the Derringer Awards, presented by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Once again, it was a good year for the Notorious SleuthSayers Gang.  In the Flash category Travis Richardson was shortlisted for "Final Testimony," which appeared in Flash Fiction Offensive (ed. Hector Duarte, Jr. and Rob Pierce, July 10, 2017) and Elizabeth Zelvin scored for "Flash Point,"  in A Twist of Noir (ed. Christopher Grant, March 20, 2017).

Paul D. Marks is a finalist for the Novelette zone with "Windward, from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea  (ed. Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books, January 2017)

And I made it into the  Short Story category with  "The Cop Who Liked Gilbert and Sullivan"  Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #23, (ed. Marvin Kaye, Wildside Press, October 2017)

Congrats to all my fellow finalists, SleuthSayers or not!  


2. A Nonfutile, Nonstupid Gesture.  I recently watched the Netflix original movie, A Futile and Stupid Gesture.  Some of you may recognize that title as a line from Animal House.  The movie tells the story of Doug Kenney who (with others) created National Lampoon, Animal House, Caddyshack, and a hilarious little book-length parody called Bored of the Rings.  The flick is narrated by Martin Mull playing an older version of the main character.  ("I'm a narrative device," he explains.)

The reason I bring this flick up is that at one point Mull points out something in the movie that is not true to life and then announces that they are going to provide a list of other inaccuracies.  It rolls up the screen quickly in tiny print but you can go back at the end and read them all.  They range from "Characters A and B met in a party, not in a bar," to: "Everyone was much more racist and sexist."

I loved this.  Whenever I see a movie based on true events I wind up going to the web to see what was real and what wasn't.  (I knew that tube scene in The Darkest Hour  was fake.)  Bravo to the folks who made Gesture, which, by the way, is definitely worth seeing.

3. You call that Justice?  Lowering the Bar is a wonderful blog about the quirks of our legal system.  The most popular piece last year was the true story of a lawyer whose pants literally caught fire while he was summing up the defense of his client, who was accused of arson.  This is the sort of thing that drives fiction writers to despair, because you couldn't put it in fiction.

But I want to tell you about this piece  which has everything for the SleuthSayers audience: a mystery, law, grammar issues, snark, and Sherlock Holmes.  The main topic is this portrait which resides in the Massachusetts Supreme Judiciary Court, but no one knows who it is.  That's the mystery.  The rest comes from the newspaper quoting the Chief Justice urging the public to "put on their Sherlock Holmes’ hats " and try to figure out who is pictured.  Kevin Underhill, who runs the blog, is outraged:

So. “Sherlock Holmes” is not a plural noun—unless you’re talking about several men named “Sherlock Holme.” If such men exist, and they have hats, and you collected the hats of more than one such man, then, my friend, you would have in your possession “the Sherlock Holmes’ hats” (that is, the hats of the men named “Sherlock Holme”). “By Socrates’ beard,” you could say then, “I have here all the Sherlock Holmes’ hats!”

4. Comic Sans and Brimstone.  This is a public service announcement. I just want to warn you do not go to the website Clients From Hell.    It is a hilarious time suck.  Anonymous people (mostly graphic designers)  report on horrifying encounters with horrifying customers. Here are some of the main categories (as judged by me).
The vague: "Make it more modern and traditional."
The clueless: "I can't find the ENTER button on my screen."
The Arrogant: "My friends  at NASA says this is a terrible website design."
The Holy: "We won't pay you but you will be working for God."
The Unholy: "Take out the pictures of Black people.  Our customers are White."
The Crooked: "Just copy it off our competitor's website."
The Greedy: "You're a freelancer.  I thought that meant you worked for free."

Stay away from this page, I beg you.  It will consume many hours of your life.

 5. Stop the Presses!  Do you remember how in newspaper movies they would announce that they had to stop everything and tear out the front page because of breaking news?

I had to throw out the last item I had set up today because it was just announced that my book WHEN WOMEN DIDN'T COUNT has won the Lane/Saunders Memorial Research Award.  That's the big prize for scholarship in government information.  The Government Documents Round Table said a bunch of nice things about the book here.  I would be happy to say some nice things right back.






17 April 2018

Editing, TV Style

by Lawrence Maddox

Paul here: 

Please make sure to scroll to the end (but I know you will ’cause you’ll have read the whole piece by Larry 😊), to see my announcement about SleuthSayers, the Derringers and other awards.

My pal Lawrence Maddox's background is in editing for various television shows, including Santa Clarita Diet, Raising Hope, and many more. His crime fiction has appeared in the anthologies 44 Caliber Funk and Orange County Noir. Larry scripted the Hong Kong kickboxing flick Raw Target and the indie musical Open House. His debut novella Fast Bang Booze (Shotgun Honey) debuted last month. 

I thought it might be interesting to see how Larry applied his visual editing background to his prose writing. So take it away, Larry:

***

“They want to publish Fast Bang Booze, but you’ll have to turn it into a novella. That’s twenty-five thousand words,” Gary Phillips said. “And they want it in the next couple weeks,” he added dubiously.

This was a great opportunity for me, but I wondered if I could cut my novel nearly in half without turning it into something I wouldn’t be proud of. At the time I was also working substantial hours editing a TV show, not to mention raising a family. Time would be tight. If I had any chance at coming out on top of this, I knew I ‘d have to fall back on a set of skills I’d been honing for years—maybe I could apply my skills as a television editor to the editing of my novel..

As a network TV editor, I’m tasked with building an episode scene-by-scene, following the script as I pick the angles and performances that best tell the story. I’ve worked in just about every genre, but my bread-and-butter are half hour single-camera comedies. They’re the hardest. They don’t just tell a story, they also tickle the funny bone (or try to). My shows (single-camera comedies) don’t have laugh tracks that tell you when the show is funny. I’m happy about that, too. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on multi-camera shows (I’m currently introducing my eight-year old to The Munsters—she loves it), and many of them still shine, decades later. But as I got older, I found that laugh tracks seemed 1984-ish, especially when the writing was clearly mediocre. It’s like Big Brother is telling you, “Everyone else thinks this crap is funny, why aren’t you laughing too?” Single camera comedies don’t have the crutch of the laugh track.

The shows I edit are like carefully constructed mini-movies with three acts and multiple jokes per page. There are no pauses for live audience laughter. You know it’s funny because you’re not searching for your remote control in that pesky crevice in the couch. And humor moves. Pace is king and that’s something I definitely applied to my novella: pace—keep it moving.

While the show is being shot, usually over the course of five days, I’m putting it together. It’s like assembling a massive jigsaw puzzle where every piece talks and reacts and forgets what their lines are. I’m not supposed to cut any dialogue when I’m doing the initial edit of the show, called the Editor’s Cut. I’m often dying to, but I get why I can’t. Those words represent big bucks, as well as hard fought battles in the writer’s room. Showrunners (writers usually) who are the main creative forces behind TV shows—don’t even like director’s taking dialogue out when it’s their turn to take a whack at their episode. When directors do their pass through the show after I turn over my cut, they inevitably turn to me in the edit room and ask, “Is the showrunner okay if I chop out dialogue to help get my episode to time?” I will usually respond, “Sure, if you don’t mind not getting hired back.” Then we carry on as if the conversation never happened, all dialogue left untouched, the auteur theory a burning, distant ember.  In TV, the writer is king and queen. Directors are hired guns who need to tread carefully where all things script-related are concerned or they could end up being “one-and-done.”

When the director leaves after their DGA-enforced two days with the editor are over, the showrunner finishes up with their own notes, as well as with notes from the studio and the network. If they don’t like what the director did in the editing room, they’ll often use the Editor’s Cut as their basis.  Now is the time when the elephant in the room takes a seat on the couch behind the Avid (the prevalent non-linear editing system used in TV and film), and begins to tap his Rolex. It’s get-the-show-to-time time. I should mention that many cable and streaming shows are a lot more loosey goosey with running times. While cutting Santa Clarita Diet, getting episodes to time is rarely an issue. I get to concentrate on the fun stuff, like the lovely and talented Drew Barrymore eating people.

Getting a show to time is the Jason Voorhees of network postproduction, the looming obstacle that faces every editor, over and over again. For a half-hour single camera comedy, “getting to time” means making sure an episode comes in at twenty-one and a half minutes. This timing differs from network to network, but not by much. The pilot I’m currently editing can’t come in over twenty-one minutes and twenty-two seconds. Episodes can come in a little shorter, but not a frame over. Remember at the beginning I told you that I start this process by building an episode scene by scene, closely following the script? What if that script is, say, thirty-two pages? At the minute-per-page standard calculation, we’re talking a thirty-two minute first cut. That’s ten whopping minutes—one third of the show—that needs to come out. That’s not editing, that’s liposuction.  And I don’t have all day. At this stage, they’ve already started filming my next episode. That means I’m back in dailies (shot footage), starting the process all over again. I’m finishing one episode and starting another. I have to act quickly.

My showrunner will come up with many of the trims, but they’re even busier than I am. They have to monitor what’s happening on set and in the writer’s room. Egos have to be massaged. Often, showrunners depend on the editor to come up with ways to take the time out of the episode without hurting it. So, when I’m in this position with my own fiction I ask myself the exact same questions I do when taking the excess baggage out of the shows I’m editing. Is this redundant? Do I have to keep this character beat or is this ground covered elsewhere? Have I over-stayed my welcome in this scene? TV editing has taught me the joys of being callous and bloodthirsty. Ruthlessness is called for. Babies are going to be killed. The editing room floor will be awash in punch lines and exposition, as will the outtakes in my novel, hopefully more of the latter than the former.

The through-line of the episode’s A-story should remain unscathed, which is also how I approach my prose. In TV editing I’ve had to be adept at juggling all the story lines as the episode shrinks. Many a B-story has been the victim of a subplot-ectomy in the service of getting an episode to time. When I did my Novella pass through Fast Bang Booze, I lost an entire B story (actually, it was more like a D-story) and no one was the wiser. It made the main story even stronger.

A pilot is the first episode in a proposed TV series. If the pilot doesn’t go well, the series is scrapped and the pilot never sees the light of day. The scripts for pilots inevitably come in over thirty pages, and cutting them down to time are high-pressure situations. The big fear is losing elements about the main character(s) that everyone loves. I’ve learned that this stage is an opportunity to refine the characters and make sure they are consistent. The pilot for Suburgatory had a lot of first person narration. As we whittled it down, the narration was re-written and improved until it was sharp as a one frame splice. Less really was more.

I have to see the big picture and also travel through an episode line by line. Every word is scrutinized in dialogue, and much of it is boiled down editorially to the bare bones. Excess verbiage is jettisoned, word-by-word, until the dialogue flies. I do this when I’m editing my own work. And when I’m done, the leanest, meanest version of the episode is infinitely better than its former self.

So when Gary threw down the novel-to-novella gauntlet, I didn’t freak out. I put on my edit room goggles and did what I do. Except this time, I was ruthless and mean for me, not for a network.  And it worked. I was amazed with how well it worked.

I should add that the original publisher I was writing for went belly up, but Eric Campbell and Ron Phillips of Down and Out Books and Shotgun Honey snatched up Fast Bang Booze, and it debuted March 23rd. If you’d like to see my criminal take on my under-the-gun profession, check out my story “Smotherage,” an extra bonus found at the back of my novella that details the pressure cooker world of editing TV pilots, and “Hot Moviola,” in the anthology 44 Caliber Funk (Moonstone), is about an editor caught in a world of intrigue in 1974 LA.

Keep on cutting!

***

Thanks for stopping by, Larry. Good luck with the book! And you can find Larry’s book here: Down & Out Books and Amazon.

***

And now for the usual BSP:

SleuthSayers Cleans Up:

Derringer Nominations have come out: (https://shortmystery.blogspot.com/2018/04/2018-derringer-award-finalists.html ). I want to congratulate all the finalists, including SleuthSayers’ own Elizabeth Zelvin "Flash Point,” from A Twist of Noir (March 20, 2017) and Robert Lopresti, “The Cop Who Liked Gilbert and Sullivan," from Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine #23, editor: Marvin Kaye, Wildside Press (October 2017).

My story “Windward” is also nominated in the novelette category, from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea, edited by Andrew McAleer and Paul D. Marks, Down & Out Books (January 2017).

But the truly mind-blowing thing is that 4 stories from Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea have been nominated: Mine, Andy McAleer’s, Matt Coyle’s and Robert Randisi’s. I’m truly amazed and honored for such a great showing from a terrific book. And many thanks to the Short Mystery Fiction Society:

Available at Amazon and Down & Out Books

And another SleuthSayers’ story, Art Taylor’s “A Necessary Ingredient” is nominated for an Agatha. SleuthSayer John Floyd’s “Gun Work” and my story “Windward” have been chosen for inclusion in The Best American Mysteries of 2018 by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler. – And I want to thank all of the authors who contributed stories to Coast to Coast. – So, like I said, mind blowing. And I’m thrilled to be part of it on various levels.

***

My Shamus-winning novel, White Heat, is being reissued in May by Down & Out Books. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon.  Release date is May 21, 2018:


Check out my website: www.PaulDMarks.com