16 September 2012

SleuthSayers First Anniversary!


by Leigh Lundin and my fellow SleuthSayers

Tomorrow SleuthSayers will be one year old!

Our first year has been wonderful to us, our cadre of crime-writers and crime-fighters. A few of us have been together 51/2 years, although it's not longevity that makes a SleuthSayer, but camaraderie and a penchant for damn good writing.

We're pleased to count among our colleagues a police chief, a DEA Special Agent, a military explosives expert, a Washington lawyer and insider, and a crime scholar. We also feature cosy novelists, historical authors, and popular pasticheurs. While we embrace all genres of crime-writing, we probably have more short-fiction specialists thanks to our Criminal Brief days. With further ado, hear from my colleagues about the past year and the next.

Dale Andrews: Choosing a favorite mystery from the past year would be difficult– too many contenders. But my favorite mystery-related event is easily identifiable– the pre-Edgar Award cocktail party hosted by EQMM/AHMM that I attended in New York last April. I don’t make it to every one of these gatherings– the train ride from DC to NYC and back is a bit dear. But where else, in two short hours, does a mystery writer get the opportunity to visit such fascinating and revered comrades in arms? This year I chatted first with the sponsors of the event, Janet Hutchings and Linda Landrigan. Then I headed across the room to visit Frederic Dannay’s son Richard and his wife Gloria. We discussed Blood Relations, the recent collection of the letters of Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee edited by Joseph Goodrich, and then shifted smoothly to Jeffrey Mark’s planned new biography of Dannay and Lee. After that it was great to re-connect with my SleuthSayers’ partner David Dean, who was an honored guest, an Edgar nominee for his short story Tomorrow’s Dead. While David and I held down the fort for SleuthSayers, our predecessor blog, Criminal Brief, was even better represented with James Lincoln Warren, Steven Steinbock and Melodie Johnson Howe all in attendance. The opportunity to visit with these folks and others during the party was easily worth the cost of those train tickets. But in many ways the best was yet to come. When the party ended I found myself in a fascinating three-way conversation on mysteries and Ellery Queen in particular on the walk back to Penn Station with Joe Goodrich, editor of the afore-mentioned Blood Relations, and my old friend Francis (Mike) Nevins, preeminent Ellery Queen scholar and the author of another upcoming retrospective of Dannay and Lee. As the Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world” says concerning the two party system, as between the two it is the after party that you really want to attend! Dale Andrews
David Dean David Dean: It has been an interesting year for me. Not only did I retire from police work last November, but after a mandatory visit to its corporate HQ (location undisclosed as per contractual agreement), I also signed on with SleuthSayers. It's a great gig, and with the checks that keep rolling in, I've made several additions to my collection of vintage British roadsters. No less exciting, my story, "Tomorrow's Dead," July 2011 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, was nominated for an Edgar. An obscure Brit took home the actual prize, perhaps in retaliation for my buying up all their good roadsters. My horror novel, "The Thirteenth Child" will be released Oct. 5th by Genius Book Publishing--as the name of the company suggests, they only publish works of genius, so please ignore any snarky reviews that may be forthcoming. Mostly, I continue to scribble away, trying to fashion something that people might read.
Deborah Elliott-Upton: Although I have been a writing instructor, I enjoy being on the opposite side of the desk, too. My life's goal is to never stop learning. A new piece of knowledge is like quality chocolate: delicious, appetizing and leaves one with a taste for more. Despite my other obligations, I decided to return to college. This summer, I took two courses: philosophy and psychology. Both proved interesting, both as a student and as a writer. Both of my instructors were writing books; one a nonfiction text, the other fiction. In classroom discussions, the fiction writer and I realized we had much in common and following the end of classes, we became fast friends. I have enjoyed introducing her to my other writer friends and we have attended a writer's workshop together. What is more fun than sharing your time with people of like interests? The nonfiction writer/instructor asked if I'd be interested in editing his book, so that may still come to pass, after I finishing editing my pastor's book. The great mystery in life is how to get everything finished, but as in writing any project, it will be done step-by-step by putting one foot in front of another. Deborah Elliott-Upton
Eve Fisher Eve Fisher: 2012 saw two notable things for me: (1) I started contributing to Sleuthsayers as a blogger and (2) I discovered a whole new fan base in China, where my works are being translated by a mystery man in Shanghai who loves Laskin, SD! I’m not getting paid for it – but he shared the web site with me. The most interesting crime-related event of 2012 was at our local prison, where I volunteer and found that I had one former student as an inmate and another as a prison guard. Both of them were happy to see me.
John Floyd: Of all the mystery/crime-related books and stories I've read this past year, my favorite is probably a novel by Steve Hamilton, called Die a Stranger– the ninth book in the Alex McKnight series, set in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. I've enjoyed all the McKnight mysteries, as well as Steve's two stand-alones (Night Work and The Lock Artist)– but in my opinion Die a Stranger is distinctive in that it has one of the best, most logical endings I've read in a long time. It's the kind of seamless wrap-up that makes readers gasp with delight and makes fellow writers wish they could do half as well. Personal-favorite event: I was fortunate enough to place short stories in three back-to-back issues of The Strand Magazine: the Oct. 2011-Jan. 2012 issue, the Feb.-May 2012 issue, and the (current) June-Sept. 2012 issue. I'm not sure if my stories were good or if The Strand had three slower-than-usual submission periods, but I prefer to believe the stories earned their keep. John Floyd
David Gates David Edgerley Gates: My earliest influence as a storyteller was Kipling, and then the duck stories from Carl Barks– if you don't know, I'll happily explain. My best read of last year was Alan Furst, Spies Of The Balkans, and this year, his new book, Mission to Paris (I almost said, Night Train to Paris. evocative of Eric Ambler, one of Furst's big influences). My favorite crime event was local, a stripper hired to discredit a mayoral candidate here in New Mexico: I wrote a story about it, "Heavy Breathing." I found some new writers, or new to me, and not necessarily generic, Orhan Pamiuk (his book about Istanbul), Michael Chabon (The Yiddish Policemen's Union), and some old faves, Harlan Coben and Laura Lippman don't phone it in.
Jan Grape: One year ago, Sleuthsayers began. Strangely enough, my cats and I'd just moved from a 375ft2 RV into a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house. I'd barely settled with my furry felines, Nick and Nora, when we were joined by an Alien from the Planet Nashville in the Tennessee constellation– the youngest son of my daughter, Karla. Now I know exactly why she offered to buy this house for me. (Ha.) She thought I wouldn’t figure out her master plan. (Haha) Alien Cason and I managed to survive 8 months together and just before the men in the white coats with the straight jackets came for me, Cason and his female companion unit, Justine, who'd lived with us two months, headed back to his home planet. They’re doing well, both working and have their own apartment. I do miss the alien and not only on nights when it’s time to take out the garbage. Although my writing suffered from alien activities and ear/sinus infections punctuated by a Grape family reunion in NJ, I co-edited an American Crime Writers League anthology, Murder Here, Murder There, including my short story “The Confession”, inspired by a song by a friend, Thomas Michael Riley. I’m working to get my books on Nook and Kindle, and I hope to return to Broken Blue Badge, 3rd in the Zoe Barrow, Austin Policewoman series. Happy Birthday! Jan Grape
Dixon Hill Dixon Hill: This year has been rough for my “writing department,” due to extended family concerns. However, I’ve thankfully had time to read—quite a bit of it spent, unfortunately, in doctors’ offices and hospitals. The four top new writers I’ve run across include our own Fran Rizer and her wonderful Callie Parrish Mystery Series. What’s not to love when the protagonist wears an inflatable bra and her best friend is a phone sex operator? Well, actually, there’s a lot more to her stories, but I don’t want to give anything away—they’re great from stem to (ahem) stern! Then, there was Pistol Poets by Victor Gischler. Though it had a few technical flaws concerning weaponry and tactics, imho — I couldn’t help enjoying it. I’m now seeking time to enjoy a couple of his other titles: Gun Monkeys (Hey! Who wouldn’t wanna read a book named Gun Monkeys??) and Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse. I also recently read Jake Hinkson’s Hell on Church Street, a veritable fire-ball of murder that burned to the last page faster than Time Fuse and reminded me of some of the best of Jim Thompson’s work. Last, but far from least, I discovered Marcus Sakey’s excellent The Blade Itself and Good People, as well as a fantastic short story of his. Finally—here’s a toast: To next year being easier on everyone’s “writing department”!
Janice Law: It’s always nice to find a good new mystery, and this year so far, I’ve found two, neither from long time favorites. The Fear Index by Robert Harris is not only well plotted and timely, but works interesting changes on a favorite plot line. A sort of financial thriller, science fiction mashup it not only works very well but anticipated the recent runaway computer trading on Wall Street. Second is Mission to Paris by Alan Furst, whose well reviewed previous novels never clicked with me. This one is highly appealing with its movie star lead who, surprise, eventually falls for an age appropriate woman. Brisk and more realistic than usual this one could give nostalgia a good name. Janice Law
R.T. Lawton R.T. Lawton: This last year has been a time of re-reading old favorites, making new writing friends and getting a story into the MWA anthology. Some of my old favorite reads are the Chester Himes paperback novels featuring his Harlem Detectives, Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones. I found those in a used book store in Washington, D.C. during 1971 when I had free time from BNDD Basic Agent Class #15 and wanted something to read other than training manuals. Three of his novels were later made into movies. As for the new writing friends, that’s those blogging at SleuthSayers, plus readers who chime in from time to time. Some of you I hope to meet at the annual EQMM/AHMM cocktail reception in NYC this coming April, and the rest of you at one of the future Bouchercons or Left Coast Crime Conferences. And lastly, after three attempts at the MWA anthology, I finally made it into the one for 2013.
Rob Lopresti: I debated displaying some false modesty but hell, you guys know me by now. My favorite mystery-related experience of the year was being on the cover of Alfred Hitchcock's. It's an honor and I felt honored (still do). I suspect one reason my story made the cover is that it was easy to find a file picture (as opposed to a commissioned artwork) that would work with my story. Not that I'm complaining; the picture worked fine. This reminds me: the thing that thrilled me most about my first published story was the fact that it was illustrated. After all, for all I know the editor could have purchased it without even looking at it, but damn it, the artist had actually read it. Rob Lopresti
Leigh Lundin Leigh Lundin: As I write this, I'm housesitting in a beautiful cliffside home on the Indian Ocean where whales and dolphins frolic in the waters below and the sound of the surf helps me write… 9th grade math textbooks in this case. It's been a great year launching SleuthSayers with the help of my colleagues and board members, which is where much of my creative energy's gone. During the Royal Show here (like a state fair), I chatted with a world-renown police rescuer Jack Haskins. Who knows– you might read about him on SleuthSayers! For some reason, authors names don't stick until I connect with them, and during the past year I now have a dozen more friends and colleagues. EQMM and AHMM are delivered every month to my door here in South Africa, so now when I see the author list you can hear me say, "So that's who that author is!" Here's to the next year…
Fran Rizer: The past year was traumatic for me and I escaped into reading. There were many exciting and intriguing mysteries by the big dogs, but the book that I enjoyed the most and read over and over is a collection of short stories that equal any I’ve ever taught on the college level— Blood in the Water by Janice Law. These pieces and the ones by other SleuthSayers that I read in AHMM, EQMM, and Woman’s World inspired more interest in writing short stories. Three of my recently written shorts were chosen to be included in the SC Screams Anthology. My thriller was published under a pen name that I’ll soon share, and the fifth Callie Parrish mystery, Mother Hubbard Has A Corpse in The Cupboard, will be released the first of 2013. Like several other SleuthSayers, I write music, too, and am proud as a peacock that Gene Holdway’s new CD, Train Whistle, includes six of my original songs. Fran Rizer
Louis Willis Louis Willis: For me, a reader and reviewer, the past 12 months reading articles of SleuthSayer members has been instructive. I've learned how writers of fiction think when creating a story. I’ve felt the agony they go through while writing; the anxiety they suffer after submitting it to an editor and waiting for a reply; the disappointment they feel when the rejection slip arrives. I've also felt the ecstasy they feel when the story is accepted and the excitement when it is published. When I receive my copies of the AHMM and EQMM, I search the contents for stories by SleuthSayer members. It has been fun. I look for to the next 12 months of delightful and insightful articles.
Liz Zelvin: SleuthSayers has given me some enjoyable new blogging experiences--sharing the virtual stage with crime fighters as well as crime writers and with blog brothers as well as blog sisters. It's been a good year for me in terms of creative projects too, with a couple of long-awaited publications: Death Will Extend Your Vacation, the third novel in my series featuring recovering alcoholic Bruce Kohler, and "Shifting Is for the Goyim," my paranormal whodunit e-novella on Untreed Reads, as well as the release of my CD of original songs, Outrageous Older Woman, a dream thirty years or two years in the making, depending on whether you start counting at the point of writing the songs or recording the album. Elizabeth Zelvin

16 comments:

Robert Lopresti said...

What an interesting crowd I have found myself in! I'm amazed at what you all have read/written/accomplished in the last year.

Leigh, what is a "police rescuer?"

Clarice said...

Congratulations SS!

Fran Rizer said...

I'm honored to be a part of such a talented and interesting crowd, and a special thanks to Dixon for his kind words about Callie.

Janice said...

Thank you so much, Fran, for liking the Blood in the Water stories!

David Dean said...

What great company I keep! It's been a real pleasure and privilege. I do hope to meet more of you in the flesh someday soon. By the way, I don't actually collect vintage British roadsters, though I would like to.

Dale Andrews said...

I learn something here every time I check in. Today, among other things, it is that British roadster fixation of my Tuesday partner in crime. Hate to admit it, David, but there is a 1976 Triumph Spitfire hugging the curb in front of our house!

Herschel Cozine said...

What an interesting article! I am pleased to be a part of this group, even if not an official member. It was fun to read about your various activities, etc.

Here's to a second fun year.

John Floyd said...

Thanks for putting this together, Leigh--it was fun to catch up on what everybody's (been) doing.

Hard to believe it's been a year since this train got going. I'm honored to be aboard, and a part of such a talented group.

Deborah Elliott-Upton said...

Happy Anniversary. Who brought the champagne and Godivas? I am definitely ready to celebrate!

Jeff Baker said...

A full year---wow! Time does fly when you (and I)are having fun! I've enjoyed the input from all of you and the introductions to new authors and a lot of great reads! Thanks so much to everyone involved! Here's to another fun year!

Dixon Hill said...

Champagne and Godivas I'm out of, but -- beer & cigars ... ;-)

Jan Grape said...

It's awesome to be among this talented group. I'm especially greatful to Leigh & Rob for all the help to try & train this cybertechnology challenged female. They've saved my bacon time & again by getting my article online. Rob finally wrote a set of simple instructions & now I actually can post. And thanks to my Monday partner Fran for her friendship & an emergency posting once for me. I may not comment often but I read everyone and stand in awe of this group's talent. I traded my champagne for merlot but am enjoying the Godivas. Here's to our 2nd year.

Jan Grape said...

It's awesome to be among this talented group. I'm especially greatful to Leigh & Rob for all the help to try & train this cybertechnology challenged female. They've saved my bacon time & again by getting my article online. Rob finally wrote a set of simple instructions & now I actually can post. And thanks to my Monday partner Fran for her friendship & an emergency posting once for me. I may not comment often but I read everyone and stand in awe of this group's talent. I traded my champagne for merlot but am enjoying the Godivas. Here's to our 2nd year.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Happy Anniversary to all.

Piper Barrington said...

Wow! Impressive that you have taken your time to write something like this to remember them. This will surely help us know them more. Thanks for sharing.

Leigh Lundin said...

I'm back in internet land…

Thank you for your support and comments.

Herschel, we do appreciate you being with us and being so patient with our software glitches.

Thank you Clarice, Terrie and Piper, Jan, Jeff and John.

Deborah, I thought you meant bringing Lady Godiva, but Dixon told me no nudity, he'd bring cigars and beer. I'm with Jan on the Merlot.

Rob, Jack Haskins is a South African policeman who specializes in search and rescue, sometimes pulling people from rivers and wells, and sometimes taking S&R dogs to foreign lands following earthquakes and other disasters searching for the living and the dead.

Thank you again and I look forward to another great year with the best crime writing team ever!