04 July 2012

Five Red Herrings, the Second School

1.  Missed connection
On this blog and its predecessor I often write about my Work In Progress, whatever that happens to be.  On the rare and wonderful occasions when one of them turns into a Work In Print I usually mention the previous column, but this time I forgot.  My story "Shanks Commences" was published this spring, but I wrote about the process of writing it back in 2009  and I even quote a draft of it here. 

2.  Quite Interesting

This has nothing to with crime or writing, but I know a lot of us like puzzles.  Go to Youtube some time and search for QI Fry.  QI (Quite Interesting) is the most intellectually challenging quiz show you are likely to run across.  The questions are so deliberately obscure or tricky that the panelists are not expected to answer any of them correctly.  Therefore they get points for coming up with interesting wrong answers.  However, they are penalized for boring wrong answers (boring defined as any answer the show's writers predicted).    The panelists are usually comedians which keeps it entertaining. 

If one of our American networks every wants to bring their own version I know one of our citizens with the brains and wit to replace Stephen Fry as host: Ken Jennings.

3.  The Horror...The Horror
If you haven't had your recommended daily allotment of schadenfreude, let me commend you to this piece.  Mandy DeGeit writes horror fiction and she recently had her first story accepted for an anthology published by Undead Press.  She bought boxes of the book for friends and relatives and then made the mistake of opening one of them.  The title of her story appeared as:

“She Make’s Me Smile”

Okay.  So an apostrophe had wandered in where God never intended one to be.  Not so tragic if everything else is okay.  At least the editor didn't, for example, add a couple of paragraphs describing animal abuse that were not in the original piece.

Oh, wait.  The editor did that?

And more, as it turned out.  DeGeit wrote to the editor to discuss this and for her trouble she received a reply complaining about "unstable" and "ungrateful" writers.  And you thought you were having a bad day.

4.  Parks on the Road to Hell

I just discovered Richard Parks blog  courtesy of Sandra Seamans' invaluable blog My Little Corner. This is one of the best pieces about the importance of first lines I have come across.  Quite a different view than you usually hear.

5.  Dr. Doyle, call your office.

I have been reading the Mystery Writers of America Annual, which is provided to everyone who attends the Edgars Banquet, and then sent to other members.   One of the many essays is by Leslie S. Klinger, the editor of the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes.  He mentions that after giving a presentation at a library he was thanked by an enthusiastic member of the audience.

"I'm so glad I came today," she said.  "I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, and I didn't know there were books!"

Hoping life holds some pleasant surprises for you as well.


  1. Love your Sherlock Holmes anecdote! That rings a bell with any teacher.

  2. Rob, in reference to Richard Park's blog on First Lines, I find that I write my First Line and then usually replace it with a better First Line about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through creating the story. By then I know where the story is going. And many times, I try to have the end of the story circle back to the beginning of the story, so the reader comes full circle.

  3. Rob, if there are stories written down about this Holmes fella, any chance the library has something written by a 'Mrs. Marple?' I hear she's pretty good, too.

    Happy Fourth, everyone!

  4. My problem isn't first lines, it's titles. Damn them. "Sum up or be clever in under five words." If I were that good at it, I'd be in advertising and making mega-bucks. And drinking way too many martinis...

  5. Mandy DeGeit can take comfort in the fact that Robert Bloch's story "The Animal Fair" had the ending changed by the editor in its first publication. The ed. thought Bloch's ending was to subtle for the reader. Writing in "Masters Of Darkness #1" Bloch explained his feelings as he regarded stories in a fatherly way and "some moron had emasculated my child!" On that note, happy 4th of July!

  6. A Broad Abroad04 July, 2012 15:21

    Better yet, go to YouTube and type in QI XL, which accesses the extra-long episodes of the bestest-show-on-telly.

    Happy 4th, y'all

  7. I've heard there's a petition to bring QI to American shores. And it is funny… few television sitcoms make me laugh out loud, but QI can.


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